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From an atom's point of view, the smallest pit diameter on a CD (Digital Audio, Red Book CD from 1982) is a gigantic 500 nm (width), that's like 5000 hydrogen atoms placed side by side. Atoms are tiny. One hydrogen atom (the smallest atom) has a diameter of about one angstrom (a tenth of a billionth of a meter). So, by reducing the size of a bit to the size of: 1 molecule, or 1 atom, or 1 electron, or even smaller, a lot more data can be stored in the same space.

Pretty dumb, to write bits on 1 spiral track on a spinning disk. It works, but writing large datablocks simultaneously in a 3 dimentional storage space gives sooo much more storage capacity. The information layer of a DVD is about as thick a 1/4 of the laser's wavelength. A DVD with a red laser has a wavelength of 650nm, thus the thickness of the information is only 162.5 nm.
We really need to go 3D and stop spinning disks!

Zero, One ... That's it? Only two symbols?!
More symbols = more storage
Eight symbols would be nice, more even more.
What about an almost infinity amount of values?

You know; often digital isn't really digital.
The reflected laser light from a CD for example:
lightest reflection = 0
darkest reflection = 0
halfway inbetween = 1
On a face of a platter of a harddisk, a pretty large group of magnetic parts, at a certain position, have their poles kind of alined. That is what 1 bit is.
Measuring one group results in:
surely positive = 1
surely negative = 0
surely some range inbetween = error
Data storage can be digital though, like one space that does or does not hold 1 electron.
You know that specialist can read a harddisk that is erased at "low level", with all bits set to zero. How? Well; some areas are more zero then others. Its a matter of how sensitive your read is and where you set the thresholds that define what is 0 or 1 or error.

If we can control the storage materials better, we can move beyond digital.
When working with light, a smallest area could for example reflect the white incoming light into:
1024 levels of brightness
1024 levels of color
1024 levels of saturation
Then one area can be one out of 1024^3 = 1073741824 combinations, which is equal to 30 ordinary bits.

And a magnetic field can be:
- in variable positions
- of variable strength
- of variable shape
- of variable motion?
There is more than just a north or south pole, and using them will increase storage capacity.

Although more variables increase the storage capacity, the most variable creating power seems to be coming from making combinations, like a string of digital bits does.
A slightly less powerful then "^" is the "!"
6 bits have 2x2x2x2x2x2 = 2^6 = 64 combinations
6 different balls 1,2,3,4,5,6 have 6! combinations, that is 6*5*4*3*2*1 = 720 combinations.
6 equal dice with 6 sides have 6^6 combinations, that is 6*6*6*6*6*6 = 46656 combinations.

A bit is now a 0 or a 1.
Why not number in motion?
I wouldn't mind storing a repeating sequence of multiple values in a 3D space!


The diameter of a C60 "buckyball" is about 10 Angstrom (1 nanometer). Carbon atoms like to be arranged in this particular formation and are extremely stable. Four good reasons to use C60 for data storage:
- Small but not to small.
- Durable like diamond
- Shape constant
- Electrical conducting.
- It can hold or not hold something in its center.
One Buckyball has 1/500 diameter of the smallest pit on a audio CD, so the same 2D surface could with Buckyballs hold about 500 x 500 = 250000 times more data, or about 250000 x 640MB = 153 TeraBytes! (= 156250 GB).
Using C60 for data storage is an idea of myself (Giesbert Nijhuis), but who knows how to make fast writes and reads with that? And 3D of course.

Buckminsterfullerene: carbon 60 (C60, Buckyball) the third form of carbon, after graphite and diamond, discovered in 1985 by Richard Smalley, Harold Kroto, and Robert Curl for which they won the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry. It was named after an American architect called Richard Buckminster Fuller who designed dome like buildings that rather resemble the carbon balls.

C60 is like a tiny football of carbon.
- it's round(ish)
- it has 12 pentagons (5 sided faces)
- it has 20 hexagons (6 sided faces)

I now think of some ways to use C60 for data storage:

Measure the distance (or time) between C60s. I can only guess at what resolution, but I imagine realistic: setting a minimum distance between two buckyballs of 1/2 diameter, and "step" or "frame" distances of 1/4 diameter.
If chosen eight frame distances (A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H), "A" could be the frame to separate frame-sets or "data blocks" Note: variable bit length! Here are seven distances left, and while writing this I think it could better go to "I" so there are eight distances to code with and that is more compatible with digital computers.
1 bit has 8 combinations (BCDEFGHI)
2 bit have 64 combinations (BB, BC, CB, CC, BD, DB, CD, DC, DD, BE, EB, CE, EC, DE, ED, EE, BF, ... The lower the number the shorter the code distance)
3 bit have 512 combinations (BBB, BBC, BCB, ...)
4 bit have 4096 combinations
5 bit have 32768 combinations
6 bit have 262144 combinations
7 bit have 2097152 combinations
8 bit have 16777216 combinations
and so on.

This is an other 2D way I am thinking of. Groups of 8x8 = 64 C60 bits, separated in a matrix of C60 squares so the data blocks are clearly separated.

How to: write, read, and re-write this way -and fast?!
Good question.

One buckyball could be placed in a cube, in one out of eight corners. Equal to 3 ordinary bits (eight combinations). Loads of cubes could be arranged to form a large 3D memory cube. Don't shake it too hard though!



Fraction of a meter
Centimeter (cm) 1/100
Millimeter (mm) 1/1000
Micrometer (µm) 1/1,000,000
Nanometer (nm) 1/1,000,000,000
Angstrom (Å) 1/1,000,000,000,0

"Nanotechnology can best be described as manipulation, placement, measurement, and modeling, resulting in the creation of sub-100 nanometer matter. In human dimensions, one nanometer is 75,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. In more scientific terms, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or about the width of 10 hydrogen atoms placed side by side."

Angstrom is used for measuring atoms and wavelengths of light. One angstrom is the diameter of a hydrogen atom, the smallest atom. Visible light has wavelengths between about 400 to 700 nanometers.

Giesbert Nijhuis

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