We’ve heard a lot about some highly innovative, next-gen methods for solving the ever-growing problem of data storage. Researchers are already exploring data storage in quartz crystals, synthetic strands of DNA and, as of mid-2017, molecular magnets. The new technology only comes with one major drawback: the devices themselves must be stored at a brisk 60 Kelvin – which equates to minus-213 degrees Celsius.
Examining the Huge Potential for Molecular Storage
Although the temperature requirements make it unrealistic for storing the home movies in your desktop computer, larger facilities and institutions – primarily in the governmental, scientific and education sectors – would benefit immensely from molecular storage. With early models able to hold approximately 200 terabits of data, which is equivalent to every single major motion picture ever made, the potential is certainly there.
Making the technology even more attractive is the fact that all of this data is stored on a device that measures just one-inch square. With the ability to pack so much data into such a small space, molecular storage systems could be the answer to the world’s impending data crisis.
Dr. David Mills, a lecturer with the University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry, clarified the team’s findings by saying: “We have made a new molecule that holds magnetic information up to 60 K. This eclipses the previous record of 14 K set in 2011 and is now tantalizingly close to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, 77 K. Achieving magnetic information storage in single molecules at this temperature would make molecular data storage technologies economically viable, as liquid nitrogen is cheap and plentiful. We have studied this molecule in detail to understand why it is so much better at holding information than other molecules.”
Despite the early potential of molecular-based data storage, the technology won’t be available for quite some time. Until then, we have no choice but to rely on more traditional means.
A Long Way to Fruition
The milestone of a feasible, molecular-based storage solution is a long way off, even for the most sophisticated IT-powered labs and institutions. Research into the new medium is still in its earliest stages of development, and there’s a lot of work to be done before the breakthrough can even be considered in a fully functional, real-time environment.
Dr. Nick Chilton, a member of the team at the University of Manchester, spoke about their current challenges by saying: “Understanding in detail why this new molecule has such extraordinary magnetic properties is our current goal, as this will allow us to target new molecules with better performance. We think this has to do with molecular vibrations and are now trying to understand how these can be controlled."
As you can see, there’s still a lot to be achieved before a viable model is available – if it even comes to fruition at all.
A Next-Gen Approach to a Next-Gen Problem
The race to tackle the growing issue of data storage is heating up. It’s a good thing, too, especially when you consider that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day. It’s a growing concern amongst IT experts, but recent developments like this will help us gain control over the problem sooner rather than later.
An Early Look at Molecular Data Storage
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