Boffins at Japanese tech company Pioneer have made a next-generation optical disk out of corn starch.
Pioneer believes corn starch disks will be good for the environment as it is totally biodegradable when buried underground and is loved by bacteria everywhere.
Apparently corn starch can be made compatible with Blu-ray, the storage device format supported by Sony and Matsushita. It has a storage capacity of 25 gigabytes, about five times that of a DVD, and offers high performance for recording and playback performance.
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper "most of the 1.2mm-thick disk is produced from a resin made from corn starch, with a single ear of corn able to make about 10 disks". We have never seen an ear of corn creating a disk as normally machines do it, so we will have to take their word for it.
Since resin made from corn starch costs less than ordinary types, Pioneer calculates that mass-producing the eco-friendly disk will bring its price down to about the same level or less than those of conventional optical disks.
Humble corn has come a long way since the Medieval Aztecs on their way to a human sacrifice served it as a tasty snack. Around the time of the American Civil war, corn replaced the potato and wheat as the main source of industrial starch and it has since been used for laundry, sweeteners, animal feed, alcohol, food additives and motor fuel.