Memory capacity has undergone impressive advances in recent years, but could take a quantum leap thanks to advanced nanolasers now under development in laboratories such as at the University of California in Riverside.

Led by associate professor of engineering Sakhrat Khizroev, the research team is exploring using tiny lasers that could lead to development of hard drives able to cram 10 terabits into a one-half-inch-square footprint. That is 50 times the data density of today's magnetic storage technology. Thus far, the nanolaser can concentrate light as small as 30 nanometers, and focus250 nanowatts of power.

The researchers hope to improve the laser to produce light beams as small as 5 or 10 nanometers. To achieve this goal, the scientists need to refine the precision of the focused gallium ion beams used for their fabrication. Khizroev's lab adapted the ion beam technology, commonly used for diagnostics in semiconductor manufacture, to cut the components of their lasers.

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