No more broken hard disks and lost data. With graphene oxide, scientists at the Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) intend to create a new super-secure technology for digital data storage.
In their latest study, published in the prestigious scientific review Nature (click here to read), the researchers – headed by Professor Min Gu – demonstrated the potential ability of a composite polymer based on graphene oxide to “store” data in the form of holograms.
“Information is usually recorded as binary data on a disk,” says Min Gu. “When the disk breaks, the data cannot be retrieved, with significant costs for large data centres that need to keep multiple ‘physical’ copies to prevent data loss. On the other hand, the new nanomaterial allows to develop super-disks capable to retrieve data also from broken pieces.” Each part of the hologram can, in fact, contain the whole information: if broken in two, both fragments can reproduce the baseline “object”.
Graphene oxide has features similar to graphene (known for its strength, lightness, flexibility, transparency, and heat/power conductivity), as well as an additional property – fluorescence. It can thus re-emit the electro-magnetic radiations received. This peculiarity, combined with a very high refraction index characterizing the composite, makes graphene oxide an invaluable substrate for multimodal optical recording. (The researchers found that striking the material with an ultra-short pulse laser brought about a 10 to 100-fold increase of the refraction index.)
To demonstrate the viability of the mechanism, the research team encoded the image of a kangaroo in a computer-generated hologram. The hologram was then “translated” onto the graphene oxide polymer. While the stored figures cannot be seen using a common microscope, they can be retrieved (decoded) by diffraction.
“This finding would allow to ensure more secure storage, as well as to reduce the operating costs of large data centres,” concludes Professor Gu.
The Editorial Staff
Published on Tuesday, October 15, 2013