Researchers reveal DVD-like disc that stores up to 200 terabytes

Scientists from China are currently working on an optical disc that could store up to 200 terabytes of data in the size of a DVD, .

This is made possible by storing data in three dimensions instead of just two. The scientists have developed a way to store the data on 100 layers of the disc. Even more could be possible in the future.

1.6 million gigabits on the size of a DVD disc

The procedure has already been investigated in the past. However, a major obstacle to earlier research was that the optics used to read and write the data were limited to the size of the wavelengths of light they utilized. In the new method, the data is recorded in dots just 54 nanometers wide – which corresponds to around a tenth of the wavelength of visible light used for reading and writing.

A variant the size of a DVD would therefore provide around 1.6 million gigabits (200 terabytes) of data capacity. This corresponds to 4000 times the data density of a Blu-ray disc or 21 times that of the most modern hard drives.

“This will enable the use of ultra-high density optical data storage technology in large data centers,” says Min Gu, Professor of Optical and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Shanghai Science and Technology University.

The researchers believe that their new optical disc could make it possible to shrink a data centre with a capacity of one billion gigabits, which would otherwise require the size of a stadium, down to the size of a room.

Search for suitable material took 10 years

The researchers used different laser pairs to read and write data.

The disc itself is made of a new type of light-sensitive material called AIE-DDPR, which is able to react differently to different wavelengths of light. The search for this type of material took 10 years”, says Gu. “The difficulty was how the writing and reading processes influence each other in a particular material – especially in a three-dimensional geometry.”

The data was written in layers that were each one micrometer apart. It was found that the writing quality remained comparable across all layers, which surprised the researchers themselves: “I was personally surprised that both writing and reading processes on a nanoscale worked well in our newly invented material”, says Gu.

Good prospects for the medium

The researchers currently want to focus on its use in data centers. But in addition to the potential area of application in data centers, scientists have also determined that the production of the blanks is compatible with the already known DVD mass production and can be completed in just 6 minutes. The discs may therefore even be suitable for the commercial end customer market.

The Chinese scientists are currently working on ways to improve the writing speed and energy consumption of the new method. They published their results on February 21, 2024.

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on


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