A Keele University professor has developed a high-capacity memory chip capable of holding the entire collection of the British Library.

Ted Williams, emeritus professor of electronics engineering, has patented the solid-state memory system. His invention can hold 86GB per square centimetre of surface area, claimed Mike Downey, managing director of Cavendish Management Resources who are managing the patent commercially.

"It uses a magneto-optical system which is similar to a CD-ROM and can be used as computer and processor memory for credit cards and smart cards, among other things. There is enough capacity to fit 3.4 terabytes of memory within the surface area of a credit card," Downey added.

Cheap chips The chips cost less than £30 per unit to produce. The final products measure 3-x-3-x-1.5cm, Downey said.

Williams and his team have invented four technologies to increase the capacity of computer memory. One patent has been granted for the technology that compresses text stored in binary form, and patent applications have been filed for other parts of the system, Downey said.

It is thought the chips will be on sale within two years.