Crystal form of common material could be used to create "super-discs"

Long used as an ingredient in not only white paint, but make-up; a new crystal form of titanium oxide could be used to create optical disks with 1000x-plus the capacity of a standard DVD.

The material, which can change between conductor and semi-conductor states under the presence of light, can be used to store data at multiple levels. By modulating the intensity, angle or wavelength of the light, the material itself changes colour allowing multiple layers of data storage. If the smallest created particle (5nm) was used, a disc could potentially be produced with the capacity of 1000 Blu-Ray discs.

The property, called "photoreversible metal–semiconductor phase transition" has been discovered in other materials before, but this is the first occurance of a metal oxide that behaves this way at room temperature. Nature Chemistry,  in a paper published on 23 May 2010, explains that "Light irradiation causes reversible switching between this trapped state (λ-Ti3O5) and the other energy-minimum state (β-Ti3O5), both of which are persistent phases. This is the first demonstration of a photorewritable phenomenon at room temperature in a metal oxide. λ-Ti3O5 satisfies the operation conditions required for a practical optical storage system."

Shin-ichi Ohkoshi, one of the researchers on the project at the University of Tokyo, has stated "it was not known when a disc with the material would be manufactured and put to practical use" adding that he would start talks with private-sector companies for commercialisation; according to

Thanks to Neowin member Neo003 for the news tip

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