Laser and optical glass can store data for millions of years

July 9, 2013 at 2:48 PM
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SOUTHAMPTON, England, July 9 (UPI) -- British researchers say a system based on lasers and optical memory glass could create a data storage system with a practically unlimited lifetime.

Scientists at the University of Southampton say the system, with data written by a laser onto nanostructured glass, can yield data disks capable of holding 360 terabytes of data that can withstand temperatures up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dubbed a "Superman" memory crystal, after the "memory crystals" in the Superman films, the data is recorded by way of self-assembling nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years, a university release reported Monday.

"We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organizations with big archives," lead researcher Jingyu Zhang said. "At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to 10 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."

In a test, a 300 kilobyte digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded using the new technology.

"It is thrilling to think that we have created the first document which will likely survive the human race," researcher Peter Kazansky said. "This technology can secure the last evidence of civilization: all we've learnt will not be forgotten."

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