Death of Blu-ray already?

Chris Forrester

Blu-ray won the ‘disc format war’ early last year when rival HD-DVD retired its technology. Since then Blu-ray discs and players, while not quite setting the world on fire, have sold well. But is it too early to proclaim victory for Blu-ray? Stand by for 5D-DVD, a process that could store up to 300 ‘ordinary’ DVDs on one disc!

Technologists at Melbourne’s (Australia) Swinburne University of Technology have come up with a new DVD optical technology, based on nanometre-scale particles of gold as the recording medium. This sounds expensive, but the end result is 1.6 terabyte of storage on a single disc, sufficient for the most enthusiastic collector to store a year’s worth of nightly viewing.

Nature journal is reporting on the process, and the University boffins have achieved this massive storage improvement by manipulating the light that falls upon the disc. By using different colour wavelengths and polarising the light they can layer the information stored on the gold particles. Normal laser storage uses one single colour wavelength (red for ‘ordinary’ DVD, and blue for Blu-ray).

Moreover, the researchers say this is only the beginning. Their experiments have so far used a ‘ten stack’ of thin glass layers, but they suggest that by masking the layers thinner and by using more than two polarising angles, then the sky is almost the limit. They suggest that storage on a single disc could exceed 10 terabytes per disc.

But meanwhile Blu-ray’s technology is good for the next few years. While the 5D process works in the lab, commercialising the process could take time – and besides the key players in the BD replication business are still earning back their own technology investments.