Scientists from China are currently working on an optical disc that could store up to 200 terabytes of data in the size of a DVD, as reported by IEEE Spectrum.

This is made possible by storing data in three dimensions instead of just two. The scientists have developed a way to store the data on 100 layers of the disc. Even more could be possible in the future.

The procedure has already been investigated in the past. However, a major obstacle to earlier research was that the optics used to read and write the data were limited to the size of the wavelengths of light they utilized. In the new method, the data is recorded in dots just 54 nanometers wide – which corresponds to around a tenth of the wavelength of visible light used for reading and writing.

A variant the size of a DVD would therefore provide around 1.6 million gigabits (200 terabytes) of data capacity. This corresponds to 4000 times the data density of a Blu-ray disc or 21 times that of the most modern hard drives.

“This will enable the use of ultra-high density optical data storage technology in large data centers,” says Min Gu, Professor of Optical and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Shanghai Science and Technology University.

The researchers believe that their new optical disc could make it possible to shrink a data centre with a capacity of one billion gigabits, which would otherwise require the size of a stadium, down to the size of a room.