Holographic memory sounds like something out of a Star Trek episode, a storage system that is able to utilize different points and angles of light to write memory in the same area nonlinearly to open up nearly endless storage capacity. And one scientist may have unlocked a big piece of the puzzle — completely by accident.
Washington State University doctoral student Marianne Tarun discovered that a strontium titanate crystal that was exposed to light for roughly a day had as much as 400 times the conductivity of an average crystal, according to iTech Post. The phenomenon produced, called “persistent photoconductivity,” means that the crystal’s overall conductivity can be boosted with regular exposure to light, at room temperature. While it won’t reach levels that physicists dream of with “superconductivity” — which operates at below-zero temperatures — this discovery could be a more practical option for consumer technology.
For example, a crystal of strontium titanate could theoretically be used as the storage piece for holographic memory, without the need for creating a special environment for the technology itself. The only definite additive would be a consistent light source, as the crystal does lose conductivity after a period of time. Regardless, it’s a lot less challenging than trying to create a sub-zero temperatures.
Although this accident has turned into a very important discovery for technology as a whole, we are still a long way from seeing something like holographic memory in a practical long-term application. But, it’s not just theory or fiction anymore — there might be a path to make it work.