Punch-cards make a comeback

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Punch-cards make a comeback

Antony Adshead
IBM nanotechnology researchers in Switzerland have created a storage medium that is 20 times more efficient than current hard drives which could be commercially available in 2005.

The technology - codenamed Millipede - involves a polymer strip a few nanometres thick being indented by an array of thousands of heated spikes to record data like a microscopic version of the old-fashioned punch card.

The increased density of data storage will mean that a mobile phone could hold about 10Gbytes of data - the same as many PC hard drives. Data recorded by the heated spikes indenting the polymer is read by the same tips, and can be erased by heating the polymer.

Nanotechnology is the science of building devices from components that measure less than 100 nanometres, below which the behaviour of matter diverges from that found in existing electronic components, which are typically about 150 nanometres in size .

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