“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” the song goes. But there’s also a budding relationship between nature’s hardest substance and data storage researchers who are using multicolor optical microscopy and other techniques to explore the charge state and physical properties of diamonds for their potential to write, read, erase, and rewrite computer data.
According to a report in the New York Times, the use of diamonds as a new storage media would be far superior to current magnetic hard drives because diamonds are not just a girl’s best friend; they are forever. Magnetic storage media on the other hand degrade over time as devices access, store, or rewrite data to a hard drive.
If Diamonds Are Forever, Your Data Could Be, Too
By JOANNA KLEIN OCT. 26, 2016
The New York Times
If you wear a diamond on your finger, it likely has flaws, even if you can’t see them. Don’t blame your partners for your flawed engagement rings, thank them. You could be flaunting the future of data storage on your digits.
A paper published Wednesday in Science Advances shows how diamonds can be harnessed to store data for the long term. Right now, a tiny diamond — about half as long as a grain of rice and thinner than a sheet of paper — can hold a hundred times more information than a DVD. That’s not much within the context of the world’s growing data hoard. But in the future physicists could access a diamond with storage capacity a million times greater than that of a DVD, maybe more.
Groups all over the world are scrambling to find a place to cram all the data we’re generating taking selfies, swiping credit cards and doing just about everything we do today. They’ve proposed DNA, holograms, old-fashioned magnetic tape and other ideas. Diamonds aren’t new to the memory game, either. They’ve been proposed for quantum data storage, which is kind of like teleportation. But this isn’t that. It’s basic storage 101 — 010101 (and so on).
It starts with a tiny, atomic-sized imperfection known as a nitrogen vacancy center in your otherwise perfect diamond. These flaws occur when a stray nitrogen atom — or a few of them — sneak in among its carbon structure. Deleting a carbon atom near the nitrogen leaves an empty space perfect for stashing data.