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Diamonds Are Forever: From Crystal to Computer Memory

Nov 03, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

With the amount of data downloaded every single day, increasing computer memory is a must in the technological industry. Researchers from the City College of New York have discovered the key to changing the data storage game: diamonds.

Siddharth Dhomkar, a postdoctoral associate in physics, and Jacob Henshaw, a teaching assistant in physics, both from City College of New York, have proposed to break away from the traditional methods of storing data on two-dimensional objects such as compact discs (CD), digital video discs, (DVD) and Blu-ray discs, claiming that these media storage devices degrade over time.

In their research article, Dohmkar and Henshaw proposed that long-term data storage could be done with diamonds. With this new technology, data storage could be extended to multiple dimensions. Instead of writing data to a surface, it could be written to a volume and rendered multi-dimensional.

Diamonds are a pure well-ordered array of carbon atoms. When viewed under an electron microscope, a neatly arranged three-dimensional lattice becomes visible. Occasionally, there is a defect or a break in the pattern when a carbon atom is missing. This empty space, when filled with a nitrogen atom, is called a nitrogen vacancy or NV.

This defect, according to Dohmkar and Henshaw, has a potential benefit and demonstrates properties that make diamonds ideal as a memory platform. Using artificially lab-grown diamonds, the researchers efficiently control the concentration of nitrogen vacancy centers in the diamond.

A low-power red laser pulse can charge and discharge the defects at any point inside of the diamond, presenting what appears to be a fourth dimension. By varying the duration of the laser pulse in a single region, the number of charged NV centers can be controlled and consequently encoded with multiple bits of information.

Dohmkar and Henshaw claimed that their method of data storage can encode all the information from a DVD into a diamond while taking up only one percent of the space. With these technological advances, Dohmkar and Henshaw believe the storage capacity of a diamond could exceed what existing technologies offer.

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