New Chinese Optical Disc Promises Petabyte-Plus of Storage

Researchers at China’s University of Shanghai for Science and Technology have invented an ultrahigh density optical disc format they claim can store up to 1.6 petabits — more than 1,500 terabytes, or 125,000 gigabytes — of data. While the new discs are said to look like typical Blu-rays, the data is written to one hundred layers in a 3D stacking architecture by a 54-nanometer laser that is about one-tenth the size of visible light waves. The same laser is used to read the data back. The tech is said to present “a promising solution for cost effective, long-term archival data storage.”

The nanotechnology increases storage by a factor of about 10,000 compared with today’s Blu-rays. In all, the new disc can hold “more data than the entire Internet can transmit in a second,” according to IEEE Spectrum, which notes the research was originally published in the journal Nature.

This is “a bonkers amount of data compared to what can currently reside on even the most high-end flash or hybrid hard drives (HHDs),” Popular Science writes, unpacking the process in detail.

Engineers created a new material for the optical disc’s film, “dye-doped photoresist with aggregation-induced emission luminogens,” abbreviated as AIE-DDPR.

“AIE-DDPR film utilizes a combination of specialized, photosensitive molecules capable of absorbing photonic data at a nanoscale level, which is then encoded using a high-tech dual-laser array,” writes PopSci, explaining that “because AIE-DDPR is so incredibly transparent, designers could apply layer-upon-layer to an optical disc without worrying about degrading the overall data,” basically creating “a 3D ‘box’ for digitized information, thus exponentially raising the normal-sized disc’s capacity.”

AIE-DDPR “is capable of all these varied responses to different wavelengths of light,” IEEE Spectrum reports. It’s been “a 10-year effort searching for this kind of material,” according to Min Gu, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology professor of optical-electrical and computer engineering. “The difficulty has been how the writing and reading processes affect each other in a given material — in particular, in a three-dimensional geometry.”

The researchers claim to have “broken the optical diffraction barrier limiting how close together recorded features can be,” with AIE-DDPR film so transparent the 100 optical layers are separated by “a distance between neighboring layers of just 1 micrometer,” according to The Register.

“Probably the most urgent digital data crunch to address in one of capacity, and that is the critical target of the new ODS research by scientists from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Peking University, and the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, and Key Laboratory of Photochemistry,” all of whom contributed to the piece in Nature, according to Tom’s Hardware.

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.