Run out of Hard Drive Space? Get the Salt

by Daniel L
Music libraries are growing, high definition content is everywhere, image quality is getting better and better, but what happens when there is not enough storage space to store these bits and pieces of data.  That is where researchers in Singapore took a break from increasing their sodium consumption levels, and devised a way of increasing hard drive platter data density by using everyday table salt.  The large capacity hard drives that are available today are capable of storing 4TBs (terabyte: 10^12); however, with this technological breakthrough, a single drive can hold 5.3 times the amount of data, amounting to more than 21TBs.  The process involves adding a sodium chloride solution to nano-sized circuitry in order to produce microscopic structures capable of carrying information in the form of bits.  Joel Yang, a scientist from MIT was the first to develop this method of closely packing these data structures together, which is referred to as nano-patterning.  Traditional storage technology uses tiny portions of packages composed of bits, around 7 to 8 nanometers in size, deposited on a hard drive platter in a cluster group.  Yang describes that the researchers were able to take the single bit of data stored in those groups of packaged clusters, and downsize it to a single structure.

I really enjoy table salt, especially when they are on my fries, but I would have never have thought of putting salt and hard drive platters together.  The thought of expanding storage space without the need of more expensive hardware and equipment should come as very exciting news for data centers and even every day consumers.  Sure we might not need 21TBs of storage space, but we will be able to see the cost of hard disk drives plummet even further.  Servers are constantly being deployed, cloud storage is ubiquitous these days, and the driving force of most of these systems and databases is the storage technologies associated with them.  Although, no moving parts hard drives like solid-state drives might be faster, I believe that this discovery can help researches reach faster read and write speeds on hard disk drives that most personal computers use.

Mearian, L. (2011, October 15). Table Salt may Build Heftier Hard Drives. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from

2 thoughts on “Run out of Hard Drive Space? Get the Salt”

  1. That is great news as I was starting to believe that hard drives were hitting their physical limit on capacity. Now if they can only figure out a way to use ketchup for a faster internet connection. Cool article find.

  2. This is very intereseting, its amazing the things we desciver everyday. this reminds me of an experiment where they made an underwater invisibility cloaking divice with superheated carbon nono tubes. as long as we have thr creativity we will continue to solve problems presented to us in the real world. sure as soon as solid state drives become a more reliable technology plattered drives will be a thing of the past but with discoveried like this they might hold on a bit longer.

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