Holographic storage has been a topic of interest for many years among those in the tech industry. It has the potential of becoming a cost-effective storage alternative to DVDs and Blu-ray discs, but we’ve yet to see any commercially available solutions. Researchers from General Electric’s technology development arm have brought the technology one step closer to reality, however, demonstrating a new micro-holographic storage material that can support 500GB of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc.

Unlike DVDs and Blu-ray discs, which store information on the surface of the disc, holographic storage technology uses the entire thickness of the disc material to write three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information. GE says the breakthrough was achieved making several improvements to the materials used in its optical media, which in turn increases the amount of light that can be reflected by the holograms and enables the company to scale down the holograms to even smaller sizes.

Interestingly, the company claims that the hardware and formats are so similar to current optical storage technology that micro-holographic players will be backwards compatible with CDs, DVDs and BDs. The technology is still in the developmental phase at this point, and General Electric's first priority will be to target it to commercial markets like the electronic archiving industry, but consumer development will reportedly follow.