Holographic data storage

Mar 17, 2016

Physicists at the University of Rochester have made a breakthrough in data storage technology, namely, they've been able to store an entire image within a single photon using holographic techniques. An image of the UofR logo was cut into a stencil and a beam of laser light was passed through a beam splitter (classic holographic imaging technique); then a single photon from that beam was passed through the cut out portion of the stencil. Due to the nature of quantum mechanics, that photon passed through every region of the cut away part of the stencil (or at least, that's how the math behind wave/particle duality works). This single packet of energy then passed through a cell of warm cesium vapour, which slowed the photon down by a significant fraction of the speed of light and then a lens, after which it was recombined with the other part of the beam split off earlier (another classic holographic technique) and then recorded by a camera. If you look at the before and after images generated by this storage system, there are differences between the 'before' and 'after' images but you can still make out that 'UR' really does say 'UR'.