Researchers have used gold nanomaterials to demonstrate a next-generation optical disk with up to 10 TB capacity — a storage leap of 400 percent — and a six-century lifespan. The technology could radically improve the energy efficiency of data centers by using 1,000 times less power than a hard disk center. It requires far less cooling and eliminates the energy-intensive task of data migration every two years. Optical disks are also inherently far more secure than hard disks.

The world is shifting from Big Data towards Long Data, which enables new insights to be discovered through the mining of massive datasets that capture changes in the real world over decades and centuries. The new technology could expand horizons for research by helping to advance the rise of Long Data.

The novel technique combines gold nanomaterials with a hybrid glass material that has outstanding mechanical strength. The researchers demonstrated optical long data memory in a novel nanoplasmonic hybrid glass matrix, different to the conventional materials used in optical discs. Glass is a highly durable material that can last up to 1,000 years and can be used to hold data, but has limited storage capacity because of its inflexibility.

The team combined glass with an organic material, halving its lifespan but radically increasing capacity. To create the nanoplasmonic hybrid glass matrix, gold nanorods were incorporated into a hybrid glass composite known as organic modified ceramic.

Gold was chosen because like glass, it is robust and highly durable. Gold nanoparticles allow information to be recorded in five dimensions — the three dimensions in space, plus color and polarization.

The technique relies on a sol-gel process, which uses chemical precursors to produce ceramics and glasses with better purity and homogeneity than conventional processes.

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