Every time it seems like we're starting to run out of hard drive space, some genius comes along and invents a way to cram more data onto those spinning magnetic platters. But as far as we know, this is the first time that it's also involved making said platters even tastier than they already are.
The key to making bigger hard drives is stuffing more little magnetic bits onto a given area of disk. The way it works right now is that there are a bunch of randomly scattered nanoscopic magnetic grains, and a pile of ten or twenty of these grains are used to form one bit of data. These piles can get together to hold 0.5 terabit per square inch of info, but they're kinda random, and not patterned efficiently onto the disk.
Instead of using random piles, a team from Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) has been able to do the same thing with slightly larger grains that can store data in one single structure instead of a haphazard jumble of smaller grains, allowing them to stuff more bits in the same amount of space. The secret to doing this, it turns out, was adding a solution of regular table salt to part of the manufacturing process, which allowed for much higher resolution fabrication.
Using this new method, the IMRE team has been able to manufacture bit densities of up to 3.3 terabits per square inch, meaning that we're looking at storing six times as much data on hard drives of the same size. Man, just imagine the possibilities with that much storage space. Imagine it.
I'll be in my bunk.