Chinese engineers develop 200TB optical disc — 100-layer super DVD could be the first step towards exabyte data storage but challenges still exist

A wall of data on a large screen.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

In an effort to meet the ever-growing data demands, a team of Chinese photonic engineers has developed a high-capacity optical disc capable of holding up to 200TB of data. The team's groundbreaking work, published in Nature, has the potential to revolutionize storage technologies, particularly in data centers where space is at a premium.

Traditional DVDs, used for storing movies and data, have a capacity of 4.5GB - enough to store approximately two hours of video. Data is written onto the disc's surface using a laser to etch a series of ones and zeros. However, Tech Xplore reports that this new technology developed by the Chinese team takes an entirely different approach.

The engineers claim to have found a way to store data in three dimensions, as opposed to a single layer, enabling them to create an optical disc with up to 100 layers.

Challenges ahead

This new breakthrough was achieved by developing a special coating and using unique patterns of light and a dye in the coating that allowed for etching at the nanoparticle scale. This process has enabled the team to store data at an unprecedented level.

However, the team acknowledges that there are still challenges to overcome before these “super DVDs” can be commercialized. The current process of writing data to the disc is slow and energy-intensive, issues the team believes can be rectified. Furthermore, the cost of manufacturing such DVDs and the potential retail price for consumers remains unclear.

Despite these obstacles, the Chinese research team remains optimistic. They believe they are on the right path to selling DVDs capable of storing massive amounts of data, not only to consumers but also to data storage facilities, businesses, and media companies.

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Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is a freelancer writing news for TechRadar Pro. He has been writing about computers, technology, and the web for 30 years. In that time he wrote for most of the UK’s PC magazines, and launched, edited and published a number of them too.