Chemists at Glasgow University have developed a "molecular switch" which means that data storage can be dramatically increased without the need to increase the size of microchips, which could be based on flexible plastics rather than rigid silicon chips, The Telegraph reports.

The breakthrough means that we could see 500,000 gigabytes squeezed onto one square inch which compares to the current limit for the space of around 3.3 gigabytes.

This additional memory means that the smallest mobile phone could have the equivalent memory of the most powerful personal computer, or as Dr Vin Dhanak, a research scientist at Daresbury, says, iPods with huge capacities:

"This research shows that the potential is there for your future iPod to have hundreds of thousands times more capacity to store music and video than currently possible. As in the case with other molecular based devices, such as carbon nanotubes, the challenge we are faced with now is in resolving fabrication issues."

In other words, the theory is there, but it could be some time before we see this tech in practice.