Photonic data storage is a term referring to the use of light to move and store information. The methods of storing data through photonics include the use of magnetic hard drives with pulsed light to write and read the memory, the use of phase change materials to develop optical on-chip memory, and the use of fiber optic cables to keep data in motion faster than traditional spinning-platter hard drives.
The method is anywhere from 100 to 1000 times faster than current data writing and storage technology.
Demonstrated by researchers at the Institute of Photonic Integration of the Eindhoven University of Technology, the technology is a hybrid technology matching magnetic hard drives with short light pulses. The light pulses write data to the magnetic memory faster and with better energy-efficiency than traditional writing methods. Further, once the information is written and stored it leaves space in the memory domains for new data.
The researchers were able to achieve the all-optical switching necessary in synthetic ferrimagnets using single femtosecond laser pulses. Original research into the use of pulsed-light photonic memory systems suggested the use of ferromagnetic materials for magnetic memory devices. The researchers found using these materials required multiple laser pulses and longer data writing times as well as greater energy use when compared with synthetic ferrimagnets.
The method is anywhere from 100 to 1000 times faster than current data writing and storage technology, based on the researchers results. The researchers also applied all-optical switching memory with racetrack memory (a method which uses a magnetic wire to transport data in the form of magnetic bits). In the researchers system, magnetic bits of information were written using light and transported by the magnetic wire leaving space for new data at a faster rate. The researchers likened the process of jumping from a moving high-speed train to another one.
Studied by professor David Wright from the University of Exeter's engineering department and professor Harish Bhaskaran from Oxford University in 2015, they demonstrated the use of phase change materials which alter their optical properties depending on the arrangement of their atoms to develop permanent all-optical on-chip memory. The technology uses fast light pulses to switch material between crystalline and amorphous states. They also demonstrated that a larger amount of data stored in a single integrated nanoscale optical phase-change cell compared to traditional electrical storing technologies. The researchers were able to write optical bits at frequencies of up to a gigahertz or more.
In 2019, a team of researchers from Oxford University and IBM Research-Zurich developed an all-optical approach to direct in-memory multiplication on an integrated photonic device. Integrated on a photonic device, the memory technology was based on non-volatile multilevel phase-change memories. The implementation would go towards increasing detection, expanding operation, and decreasing energy consumption of on-chip computational tasks.
Another research team, in 2019, made up of researchers from University of Oxford, University of Exeter, University of Munster, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, demonstrated the use of phase-change materials for multilevel cell random access memory applications for high-capacity data storage. These phase change materials, outside of offering faster read and write data speeds, have also been demonstrated to offer stable and repeatable memory states with long endurance and scalability compared to traditional ferroelectric and magnetic random access memory materials. The research team were also able to demonstrate the use of a single-pulse optical programming method which was faster and more energy efficient compared to traditional methods.
Since 2015, LyteLoop has used fiberoptic cables as a method of photonic data storage. The data is put in a constant state of perpetual motion with the use of ultra-high bandwidth lasers. The use of photonics has proven to be less space intensive while using less energy than traditional data storage solutions.
Fast and reliable storage using a 5 bit, nonvolatile photonic memory cell
Xuan Li, Nathan Youngblood, Carlos Rios, Zengguang Cheng, C. David Wright, Wolfram HP Pernice, Harish Bhaskaran
In-Memory Computing Using Photonic Memory Devices
Abu Sebastian, Harish Bhaskaran
February 15, 2019
New Approach for Optical Data Storage
July 16, 2018
Optical RAM and integrated optical memories: a survey
Theoni Alexoudi, George Theodore Kanellos, Nikos Pleros
May 25, 2020