A research team made up of chemists and engineers at the University of Texas has developed a new polymer which is able to increase the capacity of hard drives as we know them. The substance, known as block copolymer, can block the magnetic fields generated by points that store the data presented in a storage unit. As a result, it is possible to decrease the space between each of these points, which results in increasing the overall density of information carried by a device without them being corrupted. So far, the process was able to double the available storage space on a hard drive, but this should change soon.
According to the professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the College of Natural Sciences, C. Grant Wilson, a student group has already achieved encouraging results in the refining process of applying the polymer. Besides reducing the space further occupied by the material, they were able to speed up the time it takes for the substance to rearrange the correct patterns. For the invention to adapt properly the operation of conventional hard drives, the team created a special coating which ensures that it follows the same line of data points presented in these devices. Thus, the block copolymers can reorient standards smaller, which allows to obtain a final storage space even further.
The discovery at the University of Texas may further accentuate competition between HDDs and SSD storage drives. By enabling the creation of devices with capacities up to 10 TB with affordable technology should make many people prefer to keep investing in them, leaving aside the options of faster (and expensive) SSD available in the market.
Currently, the research team is working together to HGST (a subsidiary of Western Digital) on ways to make feasible the use of the substance on a large scale. Although the process is already in a relatively advanced stage, no estimate of when the technology should generate reflections on the products you find in conventional stores.