High-capacity tape for era of big data

A series of lasers on table top. A background of stars. Two mesh orbs. A purple rectangle.

Magnetic pole flip. Millimeter waves irradiate epsilon iron oxide, reversing its magnetic states representing binary states 1 or 0. © 2020 Ohkoshi et al.

Although out of sight to the majority of end users, data centers work behind the scenes to run the internet, businesses, research institutions and more. These data centers depend on high-capacity digital storage, the demand for which continues to accelerate. Researchers created a new storage medium and processes to access it that could prove game changing in this sector. Their material, called epsilon iron oxide, is also very robust so can be used in applications where long-term storage, such as archiving, is necessary.

It may seem odd to some that in the year 2020, magnetic tape is being discussed as a storage medium for digital data. After all, it has not been common in home computing since the 1980s. Surely the only relevant mediums today are solid state drives and Blu-ray discs? However, in data centers everywhere, at universities, banks, internet service providers or government offices, you will find that digital tapes are not only common, but essential.

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