Millipede is a nano-storage prototype developed by IBM that can store data at a density of a trillion bits per square inch: 20 times more than any currently available magnetic storage medium. The prototype's capacity would enable the storage of 25 DVDs or 25 million pages of text on a postage-stamp sized surface, and could enable 10 gigabytes (GB) of storage capacity on a cell phone.

Millipede uses thousands of tiny sharp points (hence the name) to punch holes into a thin plastic film. Each of the 10-nanometer holes represents a single bit. The pattern of indentations is a digitized version of the data. According to IBM, Millipede can be thought of as a nanotechnology version of the punch card data processing technology developed in the late 19th century. However, there are significant differences: Millipede is rewritable, and it may eventually enable storage of over 1.5 GB of data in a space no larger than a single hole in the punch card. Storage devices based on IBM's technology can be made with existing manufacturing techniques, so they will not be expensive to make. According to Peter Vettiger, head of the Millipede project, "There is not a single step in fabrication that needs to be invented." Vettiger predicts that a nano-storage device based on IBM's technology could be available as early as 2005.

This was last updated in May 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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