Andrew Wicks

About Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

Diamonds are for storage: Science

Approx Reading Time-10As it turns out, diamonds may actually be a nerd’s best friend, as they represent the future of storage for all our stuff.


Once hung from the neck of egotistical criminals who verbalised their rap sheet, or dragged down the digits of humble trophy wives in pursuit of gold, and other digits, the humble diamond is coming to a USB slot near you.

Here’s the problem. The amount of space that man has discovered is running out. The current garden-variety magnetic disk drive (present in your computer or the things attached to it) has firmly clamoured over the Terabyte milestone, but that figure represents the top of Everest. There’s nothing above it.

Beyond that, our options are obsolete. The CD/DVD may have torn down great record and film empires in their heyday, but their dash is absolutely done. Small size, small performance window, no future. Story of my life.

In terminologese, courtesy of WEF/The Conversation: “Standard optical disk technologies are restricted by their two-dimensional nature – they just store data in one plane – and also by a physical law called the diffraction limit, based on the wavelength of light, that constrains our ability to focus light to a very small volume.” In other words, it’s like hanging all of your rapper-singer posters on one wall of your house; why not pop your poster of that Dr Drake character on your ceiling?

This is where the diamond makes its sparkled, triumphant entrance (ow, my eyes). The very nature of this carbon-based beast allows us to store data three-dimensionally.

The key is something called a “defect”. A diamond, as any shallow person will tell you when they mention the purity of their partner’s love, is a well-ordered array of carbon atoms. Under an electron microscope, it looks like a 3D lattice fence. However, sometimes there’s a gap in that fence, and the atom gap can be filled with a nitrogen atom – what is known as a defect.

Ostensibly, the defect is a hole (V) that you can theoretically put your stuff in.

Yay, the science.

From the clipboarded genius that birthed this wailing child of possibility: “We’ve used a green laser pulse to assist in trapping an electron and a high-power red laser pulse to eject an electron from the defect. A low-power red laser pulse can help check if an electron is trapped or not. If left completely in the dark, the defects maintain their charged/discharged status virtually forever.” Which equals, copious sweet data holes for all.


World Economic Forum/The Conversation – Siddharth Dhomkar and Carlos A Meriles

See, they’ve written stuff on the atom.

Now what all of this means (yes, I hear you groan, and yes, it will be on the test,) is that lab-grown diamonds (battery farm? The Matrix?) will result in “about 100 times enhancement in terms of bit density relative to the current DVD technology,” and more importantly, that all the information on a DVD can be fit into one diamond which “takes up about one percent of the space.”

One question, how big will the thumbnails be?

I can’t wait to have my grandkids groan in derision as they have to explain this to the enfeebled me sometime in my wrinkled future.


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