A team of researchers and engineers has developed a new technique to produce 5cm (2 inch) diamond “wafers” capable of storing incredible memory. The extremely high purity of the raw material allows each of these small "biscuits" to store the data that would fit into a billion Blu-Ray discs.
The cutting edge of quantum computing
Diamond is one of the most promising materials for practical quantum computing devices, including memories. A particular flaw of the diamond called vacant nitrogen center it can be used to store data in the form of qubits (superconducting quantum bits), but too much nitrogen interferes with the diamond's quantum storage capabilities.
In summary: the researchers of the Saga University and Adamant Namiki Precision Jewelery Co. they were at a crossroads. Large (and too much nitrogen) diamond wafers or very small (and low memory) ultrapure diamond wafers?
Today the deadlock has been overcome, and ultra-high purity products of sufficient size for practical use have been obtained. They called them Kenzan Diamond.
In five centimeters of wafer all the memory of the world (and there is also space)
With this technique, the team claims that 5 cm diameter diamond wafers have immense data density. Think that a single-layer Blu-Ray can store up to 25GB of data: do you have any idea what you could put into A BILLION Blu-Ray?
To give you an idea of the order of magnitude:
- 275 million films;
- 6 million years of video calling;
- 5 copies of all printable material in the world;
- 2 copies of all human content in the world (including audio, video and text);
Not bad, do you think?
New techniques are needed
The secret of this technology, as mentioned, is the exceptional of these diamonds, capable of having a nitrogen concentration of less than three parts per billion (ppb).
To achieve this, a new manufacturing process is required. Diamond wafers are created by growing crystals on a flat surface base material. To avoid breaking the diamond under stress, the researchers made a relatively simple modification: tiny "steps" on the surface of the substrate. Thanks to this it was possible to work such pure diamonds in larger sizes.
The launch of these memories on the market is scheduled for 2023, and in the meantime the team plans to double the diameter to 10cm.
What could diamond wafers be used for?
The insane amount of data that can be stored might suggest that we don't need all this memory. Far from it. Aside from content such as text, video and audio, there are streams of information that consume a lot of data.
Second estimates of Cisco Visual Networking Index, in 2016 the global data traffic on the mobile network would have reached 10,8 exabytes per month. Three diamond wafers could store all the data exchanged in one year.
It is clear that memories of this type face new, unthinkable uses: the metaverse first of all, but also the future recording on a support (by means of practically ubiquitous sensors) of all our experiences from birth, even of all our thoughts.
Maybe to "transfer" them elsewhere at the end of life.