Superman memory crystal: 5D nano-glass
to preserve data for million years.A research group in Britain has recorded data into a crystal of nanostructured glass. This future storage with practically unlimited lifetime and capacity exceeding Blu-Ray’s by 2,800 times might save civilization’s data for aliens if humankind is gone.
A group of scientists from University of Southampton has developed a ‘five-dimensional’ optical memory, having experimentally proven a possibility of recording data into nanostructured glass using a high speed (femtosecond) laser, which creates self-assembled nanostructures in fused quartz.
The creators of 5D memory has dubbed their invention ‘Superman memory crystal’, following the ‘memory crystals’ used in a number of movies featuring the superhero.
The method is called 5D because in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures their refraction and polarization characteristics work as two additional parameters.
The newly-developed storage promises unprecedented data capacity of 360 Terabyte for a DVD-sized disc. The maximum capacity of a latest generation quad-layer Blu-Ray DVD is “only” 128 Gigabytes. The largest heat-assisted magnetic recording hard drive (HAMR), yet to be commercially produced, will have about 20 terabytes per disc.
Glass storage could preserve data for millions of years whereas a DVD guarantees only about seven years of faultless playback.
The nanostructured glass remains stable if exposed to temperatures up to 1,000°C.
“We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organizations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan,” said the head of the project Jingyu Zhang, pointing out that museums and national archives with their huge numbers of documents are going to be the first to benefit.
A joint project of University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and Eindhoven University of Technology has presented ‘5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring in Glass’ report at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO’13) in San Jose, California.
The ORC’s physical optoelectronics group supervisor Prof. Peter G. Kazansky, follower of the Nobel Prize laureate for the invention of laser, Aleksandr Prokhorov, shared that “It is thrilling to think that we have created the first document which will likely survive the human race. This technology can secure the last evidence of civilization: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”