- The tiny pockets created by defects in the gems could be manipulated to store data, with spots only a few nanometers wide capable of holding information.
- The research is the latest in a trend of looking at unusual materials, such as DNA and quartz, as a potential means of data storage.
Diamonds Are Forever
Though it might be the first place you think to look, jewelry is not the only place where diamonds can be found. They are used in industrial drills and in medical equipment, and soon diamonds could be found inside computers as well.
Siddharth Dhomkar and his team of scientists from the City College of New York have found a way to store data inside artificially grown diamonds using small defects inside the gems. To do this, they targeted diamonds whose crystalline structures had small gaps called nitrogen vacancy centers where carbon atoms should be. The gaps are so named because nitrogen atoms are located around them.
The gaps usually hold electrons, which give the space a negative charge, but the scientists found out that when they hit the gaps with a laser, it turned into a neutral charge. The sequences of neutral and negative charges in these gaps could be used to store data similar to how CDs and DVDs use tiny pits for data storage.
Storage For Life
In theory, the researchers could store data in spots only a few nanometers wide. However, they don’t have any way to read or write at this small of a level. Right now, the smallest bit size they were able to reach is roughly the same size as that used for a modern DVD.
The technology does show promise, though, as the scientists found out that diamonds could also store data in 3D as stacks of images in 2D. “One can enhance storage capacity dramatically by utilizing the third dimension,” Dhomkar told Live Science.
Storage technology is evolving, with many researchers focusing less on disk-based storage and more on unconventional materials. Some of these technologies include using quartz, individual atoms, and even DNA for data storage. These latest developments show how humans are continually finding new ways to preserve our memories for all eternity…or at least until we run out of space.