Breakthrough Chinese Researchers Unveil 125TB Optical Disk Format

New disks are Blu-ray-size but offer up to 10,000x greater capacity

1 min read
CD Drive [ Denny Müller/ Unsplash]

In a groundbreaking development, researchers in China have unveiled a revolutionary optical disk format capable of storing an astonishing 125 terabytes (TB) of data. This remarkable achievement marks a significant leap forward in digital storage technology, offering a solution to the ever-growing demand for high-capacity data storage.

The new disks, which are comparable in size to traditional Blu-ray disks, boast a capacity that is approximately 10,000 times greater thanks to the innovative application of nanotechnology and a pioneering 3D stacking architecture. Developed by scientists from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Peking University, and the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, this breakthrough promises to address the pressing need for cost-effective, long-term archival data storage.

Described in their paper titled ‘A 3D nanoscale optical disk memory with petabit capacity,’ the researchers detail the key advancements that enable this unprecedented storage capacity. The disks feature a double-sided 120mm design with an impressive 100 layers on each side, yet maintain a thickness comparable to conventional optical disks due to the incredibly thin layers, measuring only one micrometer apart.

Central to the innovation is the use of a photoresist film doped with aggregation-induced emission dye, which ensures exceptional data density on each layer of the disk. Additionally, the data reading and writing technologies have been meticulously tailored to accommodate the complexities of the new medium, utilizing femtosecond laser beams to optically stimulate the photoresist film with recording spots measured at a super-resolution scale.

The implications of this breakthrough are profound. The researchers envision the possibility of constructing exabit-level data centers within confined spaces, significantly reducing the physical footprint required for massive data storage infrastructure. Moreover, the stability of the new optical disks offers a promising solution for long-term data preservation, with an expected shelf life of 50 to 100 years, thereby minimizing the need for costly data migration and environmental controls.

As the research team continues to refine the technology, efforts are underway to enhance data transfer speeds, decrease write energy requirements, and make the disk hardware more accessible for commercialization. With its potential to revolutionize the landscape of data storage, the new optical disk format represents a significant milestone in the quest for next-generation storage solutions.

(Image credit: Nature)
(Image credit: Nature)

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