While the next generation format war has Toshiba's HD DVD and Sony's Blu-ray tearing at one another's throats it appears the disc itself isn't actually the key ingredient, the laser is.
Whereas a blue laser is used to burn up to 15GB or 25GB onto a single HD DVD or Blu-ray disc respectively a partnership between scientists in Germany, Italy and Hungary has seen them record an incredible 500GB onto either format.
El Reg reports the 'Microholas Project' managed to achieve this remarkable feat by developing a "microholographic recording surface using nanostructures inside the disk rather than on the surface as in conventional optical storage systems".
The end result is that far more complex multi-layered structures can be burnt onto a disc with the 500GB prototype having 50 data storage layers. Compare this with HD DVD which has managed up to three layers in tests and two for the mass market and Blu-ray which has done better with a theoretical eight and real world two and you'll see the huge potential on offer here.
Interestingly, scientists on the project claim the technique also has the potential to double this to 1TB over 100 layers.
As with most exciting scientific breakthroughs the application for such humongous capacities is pushed towards high end enterprise storage rather than fun loving vast HD movie collections but I'm sure we'll see it eventually filter down to the unwashed masses... sometime in the very distant future.