Local scientists shrink big data storage

Li Qian
A portable big data center on a single disc is in prospect after local scientists come up with a new approach to storing the vast amount of data we produce every day.
Li Qian

Local scientists have found a new approach to high-capacity data storage, making a portable big data center possible.

The amount of data we produce every day is beyond imagination in this era of information explosion.

Estimates show that global data will amount up to 175 ZB (Zettabytes; 1 ZB equals 1 billion Terabytes or 1 trillion Gigabytes) in 2025. If 175 ZB were stored on Blu-ray disks, the disk stack would be 23 times the distance to the Moon.

Scientists from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST) have offered a new approach for next-generation nanoscale optical data storage, which can greatly increase storage capacity while decreasing energy consumption.

They conjugated graphene oxide and lanthanide-doped upconversion nanoparticles, which are synthesized by adding lanthanides, the rare-earth elements, into nanoparticles and are able to convert infrared light into UV-visible light.

Using the nanocomposites as storage media combined with a sub-diffraction optical writing method, it is possible to develop a 12-centimeter-in-diameter optical disk that can store 700 TB, equal to the capacity of 28,000 Blu-ray discs.

This finding provides a new approach to develop new optical disks which demand lower energy consumption and have a long lifespan.

Professor Zhang Qiming said it has great potential to be used in the big data centers.

“Maybe in the future a standard football field-sized big data center can be replaced by a portable disk,” he said.

Simone Lamon, a postdoctoral research fellow of USST, said the new optical storage technology is likely to greatly support the development of artificial intelligence technology. He believed it will usher in an information revolution.

The research was conducted by University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, RMIT University and National University of Singapore. It has been published in scientific journal “Science Advances.”

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