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.