MikeatWired writes "A team of researchers from across Europe and Asia has demonstrated a way of using laser heat to store data rather than magnetic fields, potentially increasing the speed of your hard drive by 100 times or more. Tom Ostler — a physicist at the University of York, which led the research project — tells Wired that this would allow your machine to save files much faster, but also reduce the machine’s power consumption by avoid traditional magnetic storage techniques. This month, Ostler and his colleagues — who span research institutions in Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Japan and, the Netherlands — published a paper describing their breakthrough in the pages of Nature Communications. Typically, data is written to hard drives using magnetic fields. By shifting fields, you can write 1s and 0s, changing the polarization of the material where the data is stored. One polarization represents a 1; another represents a 0. Heat has long been the enemy of this technique, because it distorts the fields. But with their paper, Ostler and crew have shown a way using heat that changes a material’s polarization without using magnetic fields, storing thousands of gigabytes of data in a single second"
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