Folio Photonics LLC, a start-up company spun off from research in the Center for Layered Polymer Systems at Case Western Reserve University, received an exclusive license from the university to commercialize products for a large and evolving archival optical data storage market.
Folio Photonics is developing an optical data storage disc with terabyte scale capacity, said company founder Kenneth D. Singer, the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics. The license, through the university’s Technology Transfer Office, is for the length of the patents, at least 20 years.
Not too long ago, a gigabyte in computing was considered a large amount of storage capacity. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. A Folio Photonics disc could have the capacity to store about 50 Blu-ray movies, an exciting prospect for home entertainment. But the company’s initial focus is to increase storage and access to archival data, a vital need for cloud storage, business and government.
Folio Photonics, now with a small staff in its recently opened Cleveland office, hopes to compete in the nearly $30 billion data storage market that mainly relies on hard drives and magnetic tapes.
Data archiving is the process of moving information no longer frequently used into storage. The archives are usually indexed and have search capabilities so files and parts of files can be easily located and retrieved.
“We are pleased to have completed the license agreement, so we can go full-speed ahead,” Singer said. “The initial commercial use will be a terabyte scale optical disc, manufactured using a highly scalable, low-cost method.”
The Folio Photonics technology depends on effective use of polymer co-extrusion, a manufacturing method that allows data storage in layers. The process uses thin, flexible polymer film that can be cut and laminated to discs, so that 64 extremely thin layers that can be read on hardware designed for that purpose.
“Optical data storage provides an inexpensive, energy-friendly, long-term storage solution,” Singer said.
The license is vital to Folio Photonics’ growth and long-term success, said Rick Lytel, the company’s business manager.
“The license will enable Folio Photonics to complete its engineering, launch its marketing efforts and drive toward the creation of large-scale storage devices and systems for the enterprise data market and for a myriad of other commercial and mobile applications,” Lytel said.
The company intends to develop its technology and launch the first product prototypes within 18 to 24 months, he said.
“More than 90 percent of all data collected is held for possible future access,” Lytel said. “This is an area of rapid growth and a promising opportunity for Folio Photonics.”
The company has secured funding from various sources, including the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund, which approved a $100,000 grant last year, according to Mike Allan, a CWRU senior licensing officer. Now that the licensing agreement has been executed, these funds have been released to Folio Photonics.