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Creation of 1.6 petabits (200TB) CD

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Scientists from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, and other Chinese institutions have achieved a groundbreaking development in optical storage technology. They have created an optical storage disc with an astounding capacity of 1.6 petabits, equivalent to 200 terabytes. This capacity significantly surpasses the largest hard drives currently available, which can store up to 100 terabytes.

The key to this remarkable storage capacity lies in the utilization of an ultra-transparent film known as “aggregation-induced emission dye-doped photoresist” (AIE-DDPR). This film enables data encoding on up to 100 layers of the disc. Coupled with dual lasers, this technology facilitates encoding and reading of data from spots approximately one-tenth the wavelength of visible light, thereby surpassing the optical diffraction limit that has historically constrained the resolution of optical imaging systems.

This advancement represents a significant leap over existing storage methods such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, which are limited to storing data in a much smaller number of layers. The researchers suggest that these discs can be manufactured in about six minutes each using processes similar to those used for DVDs, indicating the potential for scalable production.

The implications of this technology are immense, particularly for data centers. It could enable the storage of an exabit of information in a single room, a feat that currently necessitates a space the size of a stadium. This could lead to a drastic reduction in the physical footprint and energy consumption of data storage facilities.

While consumer interest in physical media for entertainment is declining, the potential for data storage in enterprise and archival applications is significant. The researchers envision various future applications of this technology, including the possibility of reducing the space required for high-capacity data storage from large facilities to single rooms. This could address some of the current challenges faced by data centers in terms of space, heat, and energy consumption.

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