A team of Australian scientists has developed a new data storage technology that can apparently hold the equivalent of 2,000 DVDs on a single disc, and could be on the market within a decade.

The researchers, from Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology, applied nanotechnology to create discs with extraordinary storage capacities, details of which were published today (May 21) in scientific journal "Nature."

The next-generation discs pack-in 1.6 terabytes of data, a giant leap from the 50 gigabyte capacity of the cutting edge Blu-ray format.

"We were able to show how nanostructured material can be incorporated onto a disc in order to increase data capacity, without increasing the physical size of the disc," explains Professor Min Gu of the university's Centre for Micro-Photonics.

Discs currently have three spatial dimensions. By using nanoparticles, the researcher team was able to introduce additional dimensions, one based on the colour spectrum and the other on polarisation. Current DVDs are recorded in a single colour wavelength using a laser. "These extra dimensions are the key to creating ultra-high capacity discs," Gu noted.

The researchers are confident the discs will be commercially available within five to 10 years. In addition to home entertainment, the discs are expected to find an application in the storage of large medical files such as MRI scans and in the financial, military and security fields.