University puts British Library on a chip

Ted Williams, emeritus professor of electronic engineering, has patented a solid state memory system which has a capacity of 86GB per square centimetre of surface area, said Mike Downey, managing director of Cavendish Management Resource, the company that has been contracted to handle all commercial aspects of the technology.

"It uses a magneto-optical system which is similar to the CD-ROM and can be used as computer and processor memory for credit cards and smart cards, among other things. There is enough capacity to fit 3.4TB of memory within the surface area of a credit card," Downey said.

The cost of producing the chip is estimated to be less than 30 pounds ($80) per unit with the physical size (if the chip uses the computer's processor) measuring 3 centimetres by 3 centimetres, with a height of 1.5 centimetres, Downey said.

According to Downey, Williams and his team have invented four technologies to increase the capacity of computer memory. One patent has been already been granted for the technology that compresses text stored in binary form, and patent applications have been filed for other parts of the system, Downey said.

Downey estimates that the chip could be made ready for the market within two years. Though partners are being sought, Downey declined to name any companies that have expressed an interest in the memory system.

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