Scientists at a Chinese university have uncovered a new form of high-density data storage that can store more than 1,000 times more data than a DVD in a piece of film measuring just 10x10cm.
The researchers said that the new storage material could "holographically archive" data thanks to a nanoparticle-based film material more than 80 times thinner than a human hair.
It is hoped that the new innovation will help fill the demand for more storage in the future as we continue to generate endless amounts of data.
Led by researchers at Northeast Normal University in China, the findings suggest that the new technology could one day enable tiny wearable devices that can capture and store 3D images of objects or people.
"In the future, these new films could be incorporated into a tiny storage chip that records 3D colour information that could later be viewed as a 3D hologram with realistic detail," said Shencheng Fu, who led researchers from who developed the new films.
"Because the storage medium is environmentally stable, the device could be used outside or even brought into the harsh radiation conditions of outer space."
Published in the journal Optical Materials Express, the researchers detail their fabrication of the new films and demonstrate the technology's ability to be used for an environmentally-stable holographic storage system.
The films apparently not only hold large amounts of data, but that data can also be retrieved at speeds up to 1GB per second, which is about twenty times the reading speed of today's standard flash memory.
Fu added that when recording a holographic image into these titania-silver films using a laser to convert the silver particles into silver cations, they noticed that UV light could erase the data.
"This was because it caused electrons to transfer from the semiconductor film to the metal nanoparticles, inducing the same photo transformation as the laser," explained Fu.
"Introducing electron-accepting molecules into the system causes some of the electrons to flow from the semiconductor to these molecules, weakening the ability of UV light to erase the data and creating an environmentally stable high-density data storage medium."
Next, the researchers plan to test the environmental stability of the new films by performing outdoor tests.
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