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Liquid crystals light way to better data storage

Date:
June 24, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Currently, most liquid crystal technologies rely on physical or chemical manipulation, such as rubbing in one direction, to align molecules in a preferred direction. In an important advance, scientists in Japan have created a stable, rewritable memory device that exploits a liquid crystal property called the "anchoring transition."

As cell phones and computers continue to shrink, many companies are seeking better ways to store hundreds of gigabytes of data in small, low-power devices.

A special type of liquid crystal, similar to those used in computer displays and televisions, offers a solution. Unlike CDs and DVDs, which store information only on their surface, lasers can encode data throughout a liquid crystal. Known as holographic storage, the technique makes it possible to pack much more information in a tiny space.

But attempts to use liquid crystals for data storage have had limited success. In order to reliably record and rewrite data, researchers must figure out a way to uniformly control the orientation of liquid crystal molecules. Currently, most liquid crystal technologies rely on physical or chemical manipulation, such as rubbing in one direction, to align molecules in a preferred direction.

In an important advance, scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have created a stable, rewritable memory device that exploits a liquid crystal property called the "anchoring transition." The work is described in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

Using either a laser beam or an electric field, the researchers can align rod-like liquid crystal molecules in a polymer. Their tests show that the liquid crystal created by the team can store data, be erased and used again.

"This is the first rewritable memory device utilizing anchoring transition," said Hideo Takezoe, who led the research. And because the device is bi-stable -- the liquid crystals retain their orientation in one of two directions -- it needs no power to keep images, adds Takezoe.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jin Ki Kim, Khoa Van Le, Surajit Dhara, Fumito Araoka, Ken Ishikawa, Hideo Takezoe. Heat-driven and electric-field-driven bistable devices using dye-doped nematic liquid crystals. Journal of Applied Physics, 2010; 107 (12): 123108 DOI: 10.1063/1.3446826

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Liquid crystals light way to better data storage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622095050.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, June 24). Liquid crystals light way to better data storage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622095050.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Liquid crystals light way to better data storage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622095050.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

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