If you thought that the use of liquid nitrogen to flash freeze ice cream sounded ambitious and exotic (and if you’ve never heard of that, it probably still sounds wild), this endeavor is even more-so:
Because data is proliferating at such a rapid rate, our current storage technologies likely won’t remain adequate in perpetuity. By 2040, it’s estimated that humans will have produced as much as three septillion bits of data (that’s 3 followed by 24 zeros). By then, the earth might be depleted of the materials required to continue storing data through current methods.
Industry innovators are in tinkering mode when it comes to developing new data storage technologies. Among leading unicorns and potential future breakthroughs is what’s known as ‘liquid data storage,’ an approach that leverages the power of nanoparticles suspended in liquid to expand data storage capacity.
Liquid data storage
As previously noted, as data volumes surge, traditional computer bits, limited to the binary states of 0 and 1, are facing constraints. But nanoparticles suspended in liquid can be used to store tremendous quantities of data – one terabyte per tablespoon.
The unique capability of nanoparticles to configure themselves around a central sphere offers a dynamic system in which data can be stored by trapping particles into specific configurations.
It’s all in the details…
In this system, the size of the central sphere dictates the storage and retrieval of data. When small, the sphere locks particles into a specific arrangement, encoding data. Expansion of the sphere allows for reconfiguration of particles, enabling the storage of different information.
The process offers a flexible and efficient approach to data storage, challenging the limitations of traditional methods.
DNA and holography storage
It’s not just liquid data storage that holds promise and potential…
Microsoft Azure Chief Technical Officer, Mark Russinovich, has previously revealed working prototypes for data storage systems based on DNA and holography.
In a DNA system, the data ‘lives’ in a liquid suspension that contains DNA. It is “read” using systems that combine molecular and electronic elements.
While the prototypes require continued engineering and reconfiguration in order to commercialize them at-scale, this novel way of efficiently storing data could enter the technology landscape at some point in the future.
At present, storing an exabyte of data requires two Azure data centers (each roughly the size of a Walmart store), but DNA storage could theoretically contain that exabyte in a single cubic centimeter of space.
Although these advancements may seem like science fiction, significant investments from both industry and academia are fueling “moonshot” research endeavors.
The quest for more efficient, compact and scalable data storage solutions is pushing the boundaries of innovation.
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