Electronics

Two-inch diamond wafers could store a billion Blu-Ray's worth of data

Two-inch diamond wafers could ...
An ultra-pure diamond wafer (right) measuring 5 cm (2 in) in diameter that could be used for high-density data storage. The small square to the left is the usual size of diamond wafers possible using older manufacturing techniques.
An ultra-pure diamond wafer (right) measuring 5 cm (2 in) in diameter that could be used for high-density data storage. The small square to the left is the usual size of diamond wafers possible using older manufacturing techniques.
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An ultra-pure diamond wafer (right) measuring 5 cm (2 in) in diameter that could be used for high-density data storage. The small square to the left is the usual size of diamond wafers possible using older manufacturing techniques.
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An ultra-pure diamond wafer (right) measuring 5 cm (2 in) in diameter that could be used for high-density data storage. The small square to the left is the usual size of diamond wafers possible using older manufacturing techniques.

Researchers in Japan have developed a new method for making 5-cm (2-in) wafers of diamond that could be used for quantum memory. The ultra-high purity of the diamond allows it to store a staggering amount of data – the equivalent of one billion Blu-Ray discs.

Diamond is one of the most promising materials for practical quantum computing systems, including memory. A particular defect in the crystal, known as a nitrogen-vacancy center, can be used to store data in the form of superconducting quantum bits (qubits), but too much nitrogen in the diamond disrupts its quantum storage capabilities.

That meant there was a trade-off to make – scientists had to create either large diamond wafers with too much nitrogen, or ultra-pure diamond wafers that are too small to be of much use for data storage. But now, researchers at Saga University and Adamant Namiki Precision Jewelery Co. in Japan have developed a new method for manufacturing ultra-high purity diamond wafers that are big enough for practical use.

With this technique, the team says the resulting diamond wafers measure 5 cm across, and have such immense data density that they can theoretically store the equivalent of a billion Blu-Ray discs. One Blu-Ray can store up to 25 GB (assuming it’s single-layered), which would mean this diamond wafer should be able to store a whopping 25 exabytes (EB) of data. The company calls these wafers Kenzan Diamond.

The key is that these diamonds have a nitrogen concentration of under three parts per billion (ppb), making them incredibly pure. The researchers say that these are the largest wafers with that level of purity – most others only get to 4 mm2 (0.006 in2) at most.

Achieving this requires a new manufacturing technique. Diamond wafers are made by growing the crystals on a substrate material, and that material is usually a flat surface. The problem is, the diamond can crack under the strain, degrading the quality. In the new process, the team made a relatively simple change – the substrate surface was shaped like steps, which spreads the strain horizontally and prevents cracking. This allows them to make larger diamond wafers with higher purity.

The team hopes to commercialize these diamond wafers in 2023, and in the meantime are already working towards doubling the diameter to 10 cm (4 in).

The research will be presented at the International Conference on Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology in May.

Sources: Saga University, Adamant Namiki

16 comments
16 comments
Bob809
Old news this is. In the first Planet of the Apes films and TV series, they showed 'glass looking' disks that stored data, and that was in the seventies. All that aside, this is great news for those manufacturing such devices... Imagine libraries stored on one of these disks. How many physical libraries, the kind with books in them, could you get onto a disk? Answers on a diamond disc please.
CDE
In the movie 1974 "Zardoz", starring Sean Connery, immense amounts of information were stored in a diamond crystal. Great movie for its time!
steviehn
It's going to morphed all storage media into crystal sticks and then for safe keeping they're going hide in some ice cavern. Lets call it The Fortress of Solitude.
Troublesh00ter
Fine ... what are the read / write rates? Just how PRACTICAL is this kind of technology?
Grunchy
They probably want more than $85 for it, so I'm probably out.
(I mean, depends on "just how much more" than $85, I reckon.)
neutrino23
This is amazing. Large diameter diamond wafers like this will lead to all sorts of new technologies.

We never got flying cars but we got supercomputers you can carry in your pocket and all sorts of other material sciences developments.
vince
A person born today could never amass 25 exa bytes of data. That's insane. A photographer could store every picture for millions of customers on a single wafer.
TpPa
I do hope they are thick enough, diamonds may be the hardest know substance on our planet, but ultra hardness comes with a trade off of being brittle. I would sure hate to see the worlds libraries destroyed by someone dropping their coffee mug on it.
But the capacity of the disks is just unbelievable, and if they can achieve larger - WOW
Niclas
Interesting. Store 25EB in your pocket enough to drive an offline AI.
Domric
Wouldn't it be jaw dropping to find out that one of the antique jewel in a museum is actually a full library of an instinct civilization?
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