Storing Big Data In A Tiny Space

By combining graphene oxide with upconversion nanoparticles, researchers have found a way to store large amounts of data on an optical disk.

AsianScientist (Oct. 26, 2021) – To squeeze huge amounts of data into as little space as possible, an international team of researchers developed a unique material that enables low-power nanoscale optical writing to store information efficiently. Their findings were published in Science Advances. 

From each tap on a smartphone to every button-push at a traffic light, our daily activities generate huge amounts of data that need to be stored. In fact, with the total amount of data generated worldwide expected to reach 175 ZB by 2025, it would take a stack of Blu-ray disks 23 times higher than the distance from the Earth to the Moon to store it all. Luckily, we don’t rely on Blu-ray disks to store the whole world’s digital information.

Instead, the data is stored in data centers. Unfortunately, these centers currently consume up to three percent of the global electricity supply and rely on magnetization-based hard disk drives that have a limited storage capacity and a lifespan of roughly three to five years.

To develop a space and energy-friendly alternative to existing data storage devices, researchers from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology combined graphene oxide flakes with upconversion nanoparticles.

By combining graphene oxide with upconversion nanoparticles that emit and transfer energy, the team was able to reduce energy consumption and expand the life span of optical devices.

“Upconversion resonance energy transfer may enable next-generation optical data storage with high capacity and low energy consumption, while offering a powerful tool for energy-efficient nanofabrication of flexible electronic devices,” wrote the authors.

Despite decades of advancement, optical disk storage capacity remains limited to a few terabytes. With the developed sub-diffraction optical writing technology, optical disks can be produced with storage capacities of up to 700 TB on a disk just 12 cm across.

While advances are needed to optimize the technology, it is already suited to the mass production of optical disks, opening new avenues to address the global challenge of data storage.


The article can be found at: Lamon et al. (2021) Nanoscale Optical Writing Through Upconversion Resonance Energy Transfer.


Source: University of Shanghai for Science and Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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