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Chemical Industry Digest - - What’s In? -

As we are liv­ing in a dig­i­tal world, huge amount of data is gen­er­ated ev­ery day, so new ef­fi­cient ways of data stor­age are nec­es­sary. Tiny, nano­sized crys­tals of salt, en­coded with data us­ing light from a laser could be the next data stor­age tech­nol­ogy of choice, fol­low­ing re­search by Aus­tralian sci­en­tists.

The re­searchers from the Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia and Univer­sity of Ade­laide, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Univer­sity of New South Wales, have demon­strated a novel and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ap­proach to stor­ing the data us­ing light.

Dr. Riesen, a Re­search Fel­low at the Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia and Univer­sity of Ade­laide and PhD stu­dent Xuanzhao Pan de­vel­oped a tech­nol­ogy based on nanocrys­tals with light-emit­ting prop­er­ties that can be ef­fi­ciently switched on and off in pat­terns that rep­re­sent dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion. The re­searchers used lasers to al­ter the elec­tronic states, and there­fore, the flu­o­res­cence prop­er­ties of the crys­tals.

Their re­search shows that th­ese flu­o­res­cent nanocrys­tals could rep­re­sent a promis­ing al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional mag­netic (hard drive disk) and solid-state (solid state drive) data stor­age or blu-ray discs.

This ‘ mul­ti­level data stor­age’ – stor­ing sev­eral bits on a sin­gle crys­tal – opens the way for much higher stor­age den­si­ties. The tech­nol­ogy also al­lows for very low-power lasers to be used, in­creas­ing its en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and be­ing more prac­ti­cal for con­sumer ap­pli­ca­tions.

Dr. Riesen says: “3D op­ti­cal data stor­age could po­ten­tially al­low for up to petabyte level data stor­age in small data cubes. To put that in per­spec­tive, it is be­lieved that the hu­man brain can store about 2.5 petabytes. This new tech­nol­ogy could be a vi­able so­lu­tion to the great chal­lenge of over­com­ing the bot­tle­neck in data stor­age.”

The re­search is pub­lished in the open ac­cess jour­nal Op­tics Ex­press.

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