Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

More than 30,000 photos of scientists and their work

Macfarlane Roger F1

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Macfarlane Roger F1

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Image title: 
Roger Macfarlane pours liquid nitrogen into outer shielding chamber
Credit line: 
IBM, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Scientists at the IBM Almaden Research Center have identified a new group of materials that provides an important step toward developing an experimental, high-density data storage technique called "frequency domain optical storage."

The technique uses thousands of laser colors to record computer data and has the potential to store up to 100 billion characters of information per square inch -- which would be the highest data density ever achieved -- in a medium that could be recoreded, read and erased.

The two laser beams shown in the photo above are focused onto a small sample of the new materials, which is submerged in liquid helium. The beams, each a different color, "bleach" certain groups of molecules dispersed throughout the material. The presence and absence of such bleached molecules can represent the binary ones and zeros used to encode data.

"From left, Roger M. Macfarlane pours liquid nitrogen into an outer shielding chamber while Robert M. Shelby and W. E. Moerner adjust optics. The three IBM scientists were the first to identify the new materials."  

Original format: 
1 photographic print (black and white; 9.5 x 7.5 inches)
Macfarlane, R. M. (Roger M.)