Skip to main content

Titanium oxide used for 5nm optical storage

A Japanese research team has discovered that titanium oxide - a material most commonly used in white paint and sunscreen, of all things - could be used in future optical storage disks.

Boffins at the University of Tokyo said that the material could be used to make low-price 'Super Disks' with a storage capacity thousands of times greater than DVD.

The material, which is a new crystalline form of titanium oxide, switches between metal and semiconductor states when exposed to light at room temperature effectively creating an I/O state which is repeatedly reversible.

The team has successfully created the material in tiny particles measuring as little as five nanometers which would give standard-sized disks a theoretical storage capacity a thousand times greater than Blu-ray.

Add to that the fact that titanium oxide is currently about 100 times cheaper than germanium-antimony-tellurium - the stuff that makes current optical storage disks so expensive - and you can see why the Tokyo team is getting so excited.

Head boffin, Prof. Shin-ichi Ohkoshi is currently talking to private companies about commercialising the project, but titanium oxide Super Disks are unlikely to make it to market for at least a few years - if ever.

Anyone with a giant brain or a degree in chemistry might be interested in the following:

Photoinduced phase-transition materials, such as chalcogenides, spin-crossover complexes, photochromic organic compounds and charge-transfer materials, are of interest because of their application to optical data storage.

Here we report a photoreversible metal–semiconductor phase transition at room temperature with a unique phase of Ti3O5, λ-Ti3O5. λ-Ti3O5 nanocrystals are made by the combination of reverse-micelle and sol–gel techniques. Thermodynamic analysis suggests that the photoinduced phase transition originates from a particular state of λ-Ti3O5 trapped at a thermodynamic local energy minimum.

Light irradiation causes reversible switching between this trapped state (λ-Ti3O5) and the other energy-minimum state (β-Ti3O5), both of which are persistent phases. This is the first demonstration of a photorewritable phenomenon at room temperature in a metal oxide.

λ-Ti3O5 satisfies the operation conditions required for a practical optical storage system (operational temperature, writing data by short wavelength light and the appropriate threshold laser power).

Simple, innit? monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.