University of Rochester researchers are developing a new way of storing data. Instead of encoding it in binary bits like in todayâ€™s computers, the scientists are using the photon. They have succeeded in encoding an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
“It sort of sounds impossible, but instead of storing just ones and zeros, we’re storing an entire image,” says John Howell, associate professor of physics and leader of the team that created the device.
Howell’s method preserves all the properties of the pulse. The buffered pulse is essentially a perfect original; there is almost no distortion, no additional diffraction, and the phase and amplitude of the original signal are all preserved.
What all this means is that a new phase has been reached in computing. A few tweaks more and we may be able to store a few hundred terabytes of data in a device the size of todayâ€™s USB flash drive, making an even bigger jump than the predictions of Mooreâ€™s Law.