A group of researchers at the Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands, have come up with a way to achieve disk write speeds one hundred times faster than current hard drives. The method uses a laser flash of only 40 billionths of a millionth of a second to heat up areas on a hard disk and using the same light to change the polarity of those areas.
"We experimentally demonstrate that the magnetization can be reversed in a reproducible manner by a single 40-femtosecond circularly polarized laser pulse, without any applied magnetic field."
The technology used is called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), however, since the project is still at a very early stage, there are some problems to be resolved. For instance, the laser pulses, at five microns wide, are approximately 10 times wider than current recording areas, which means lower disk capacities. Another problem is that reading speeds are not increased by this technology.
Daniel Stanciu, co-author of the research paper, expects a working prototype within ten years.