According to Evangelos Eleftheriou, an IBM fellow and manager of IBM Labs' storage technologies group, the company built a prototype that achieved a storage capacity of a terabyte per square inch. He says that research will be published in an article appearing in a couple of months in the IBM Journal of Research and Development. But the group doesn't have plans to develop any products. It will leave that to other companies that might choose to license the research, he says.
The challenge for adoption of any new type of memory, points out Eleftheriou, is that flash itself isn't standing still. "In 2010, it's going to be $1 per gigabyte ... so hopefully the cost per gigabyte [of probe-based arrays] is going to be low."
Now, he says, the areas of interest for probe-based technology at IBM have moved onto topics including archival storage and maskless lithography, a technique that separates individual molecules and places them precisely onto a surface.
"The focus of our research is [to] explore ways to enhance the speed in probe sensing and the way we modify the surface -- how fast we can do those things... There are many things that come together, from positioning control, to materials to micro-machining, micro-fabricating, so it's extremely fascinating altogether."