Nanodots are one of two major approaches being pursued around the world as possible means of boosting the density of magnetic data storage. The other involves using a laser to heat and switch individual bits (Seagates HAMR technology for 50 terabits per inch) . The ultimate solution may be a combination of the two approaches, because heat reduces the strength of the magnetic field needed to switch nanodots, according to Justin Shaw, lead author of the new paper. Considerable work still needs to be done to make this type of patterned media commercially viable: Dot dimensions need to be reduced to below 10 nm; techniques to affordably fabricate quadrillions of dots per disk need to be developed; and new methods to track, read, and write these nanoscale bits need to be devised. The NIST authors collaborated with scientists at the University of Arizona, where some of the nanodot samples were made.