Scientists: Table Salt to Increase Storage Density

Dennis Faas's picture

A tandem of researchers in Singapore claim to have discovered a way to use table salt as a means to increase the density at which bits of data can be stored on a hard disk drive platter.

Early projections indicate that this 'salty' method is actually 5 times more efficient than current hard disk densities.

The method was first introduced by Joel Yang, a scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Yang was able to hone his method using an extremely high-resolution e-beam lithography -- the same process by which fine nano-scale circuitry is created.

Salt More Efficient than Grains

Current technology uses tiny grains (between 7 nanometers and 8 nanometers in size) deposited on the surface of storage media.

To put it into perspective, a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Current NAND flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) use some lithography processors that create circuitry about 25nm in width (a human hair is 3,000 times thicker by comparison). (Source:

Nevertheless, a single bit of data must still be stored within a cluster of these grains and not in any single grain.

By adding salt (or rather, sodium chloride) to the equation, researchers were able to produce highly-defined nanostructures that were as small as 4.5 nanometers. Furthermore, the bits make it possible to store information on a single structure.

In total, the researchers believe that the new process will support densities that range from 1.9 terabits per inch to 3.3 terabits per inch -- six times what a Seagate 4 terabyte drive is capable of. (Source:

Increasing Storage Density Further

And while such an innovation would likely cause many others to stop for a moment and enjoy the technological advancements they helped to create, the Singapore-based research team is already attempting to increase storage density even further, though no concrete plans have been divulged at this time.

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