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Glass memory can hold data for centuries

Aug. 15, 2011 at 8:13 PM   |   Comments

SOUTHAMPTON, England, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- British researchers say using lasers to rearrange atoms in glass creates computer memory far more stable and resilient than current types of hard-drive memory.

Scientists at Southampton University say the glass memory can withstand temperatures of as much as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, is unaffected by water and can last for thousands of years without losing information, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Conventional hard drives, the researchers say, have a limited lifespan of a couple of decades and can be easily damaged.

A laser can write, wipe and rewrite data into the molecular structure of the glass, encoding as much as 50 gigabytes of information on a piece of glass the size of a cellphone screen that can be read back optically, they say.

"It could be very useful for organizations with big archives," Martynas Beresna of Southampton's optoelectronics research center says. "At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan.

"Museums who want to preserve information or places like the National Archives where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit," he says.

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