Move Over Blu-ray – GE Shows Off 500GB Holographic Disc

By James Anderson •  Updated: 04/28/09 •  3 min read

GE has announced a major step towards holographic data storage today as they have been able to successfully demonstrate the technology that they have developed. With their demonstration at the GE Global Research Center, they’ve proven that they can store 500 gigabytes worth of data onto a single DVD-sized disc.

They are also actively pursuing storing up to 1 terabyte of data in the same manner. This is significant, said Brian Lawrence, who manages GE’s holographic project. Just imagine being able to put all this information on a disc.

The process works by imprinting chemical changes in the form of patterns – holograms – within the disc. Those holograms are then read by lasers, similar to the ones in Blu-ray players.

In fact, at 500GB, these holographic discs could offer 20 times the capacity of a single-layer Blu-ray disc. So instead of being restricted to only placing data on the surface of the disc-like with existing DVDs on the market, the holographic process allows them to place it three-dimensional so to speak.

Next Generation Holographic Storage

And while the technology is still a few years from market, Lawrence says the realization of this capacity opens the door to a slew of possibilities.

“GEs breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer,” said Brian Lawrence, who leads GEs Holographic Storage program. “Because GEs micro-holographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home. The day when you can store your entire high definition movie collection on one disc and support high resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think.”

GE has been working on holographic storage technology for over six years. The demonstration of materials that can support 500 gigabytes of capacity represents a major milestone in making micro-holographic discs that ultimately can store more than one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes of data.

In addition to pushing the limits of storage capacity, GE researchers also have been very focused on making the technology easily adaptable to existing optical storage formats and manufacturing techniques.

“GEs holographic storage program has turned the corner, and with this milestone we can now intensify our efforts in commercialization opportunities” said Bill Kernick, who leads GEs Technology Ventures team. “We’ll continue to engage with a variety of strategic partners to create the best route from product development to introduction into the marketplace.”

GE initially will be focusing on the commercial archival industry followed by the consumer market for its micro-holographic storage technology.