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Ultralong-term high-density data storage with atomic defects in SiC

Hollenbach, M.; Kasper, C.; Erb, D.; Bischoff, L.; Hlawacek, G.; Kraus, H.; Kada, W.; Ohshima, T.; Helm, M.; Facsko, S.; Dyakonov, V.; Astakhov, G.


There is an urgent need to increase the global data storage capacity, as current approaches lag behind the exponential growth of data generation driven by the Internet, social media and cloud technologies. In addition to increasing storage density, new solutions should provide long-term data archiving that goes far beyond traditional magnetic memory, optical disks and solid-state drives. Here, we propose a concept of energy-efficient, ultralong, high-density data archiving based on optically active atomic-size defects in a radiation resistance material, silicon carbide (SiC). The information is written in these defects by focused ion beams and read using photoluminescence or cathodoluminescence. The temperature-dependent deactivation of these defects suggests a retention time minimum over a few generations under ambient conditions. With near-infrared laser excitation, grayscale encoding and multi-layer data storage, the areal density corresponds to that of Blu-ray discs. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the areal density limitation of conventional optical data storage media due to the light diffraction can be overcome by focused electron-beam excitation.

Keywords: data storage; silicon carbide; color centers; focused ion beams; cathodoluminescence

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