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November 27, 1995

NORSAM FORMED TO DO SUPER-DENSITY ION BEAM DISKS

By CBR Staff Writer

Although Norsam Technologies Inc is prospecting for suitable sites in Espanola and Los Alamos, New Mexico for a 20,000 square foot plant to put equipment required to exploit the super-high-density recording technology it has licensed from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (CI No 2,799), the technology is so new that the developers and licensee have not yet worked out exactly how it will be applied. The concept is simply to use ion beam lithography to etch data directly onto steel or Iridium disks or Silicon wafers at densities of up to 23G-bits per square inch to create what is being called the High-Density Read-Only Memory or HD-ROM. The density compares with IBM Corp’s – still experimental – new magnetic recording technique, which is claimed to deliver up to 3G-bits per square inch (CI No 2,637). But the folks from the Los Alamos lab and Norsam are not talking specifically in terms of digital recording – they say the material could just as well be an analogue waveform such as television transmission signal, or plain text, or graphics. They nevertheless talk of the thing as a disk, implying rotation, but where reading from a rotating disk would be the best means of retrieving digital bit streams or analogue waveforms, it would be counter-productive up you were trying to magnify microscopic text or graphics – and there seems little point in not storing these in digitised form. The main applications at this stage are seen as more convenient and durable archival storage – microfilm and microfiche quickly take up a lot of space and deteriorate, optical disks deteriorate, where the readable life of an Iridium disk would be many thousands of years. Norsam plans to make ion beam writers for lease or sale, and to offer a turn-key duplication service to enable customers to get their movie archives or whatever inscribed onto the disks. No word on readers; on cost, Norsam says only that this will be far below comparably-sized CD-ROM disks.

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