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Archive 360TB of data on a coin sized 5D quartz disc - for eternity

by Mark Tyson on 17 February 2016, 12:31

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Scientists working at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have made a breakthrough in digital data storage capacity and durability. Using quartz-based nanoglass 'coins' the scientists say it is possible to record and store up to 360TB of data, with a lifetime of approximately 13.8 billion years.

The technology behind this staggering data storage capacity and endurance feat is based upon the use of a 5D laser writer and the resulting 5D data nanostructures created in fused quartz. Back in 2013 the technology was first tested to be working and was used to write a humble 300kb text file in 5D. Now the ORC researchers have optimised the process to store up to 360TB on a coin sized quartz disc.

5D recordings are made using a femtosecond laser that emits extremely short and intense pulses of light. According to the Southampton University blog the file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (five millionths of a metre). As you would expect of a 5D recording process, data is encoded in five dimensions - the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

The touted stability and durability of the recordings is a "virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature", in other metrics the discs showed thermal stability up to 1000°C and could endure for 13.8 billion years at 190°C.

"It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations," said Professor Peter Kazansky, from the ORC. "This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten." Now the research team are looking for industry partners to commercialise their technology.

Now all we need is a research project aimed at guaranteeing there will be a suitable 'Domesday Player' that can access and understand these 360TB quartz discs in the year 13.8 billion AD.

HEXUS Forums :: 30 Comments

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Safe until someone drops and shatters it…..
Yay, cartridge gameing is back! wohoooo
How many “coins” will be needed to store all the content on Facebook. Because, clearly, that's what we need to save for posterity. That, and cat pics'n'vids… ;)
And BAM - due to privacy concerns, the term “keep the change” has been forever phased out.
Being that small now it's even easier to lose your backup - only physically rather than due to drive failure.

And it's only useful as long as your reader still works of course. Anyone remember micro-fiche? The number of public archive records I've tried to view recently where some of the slides have gone missing. It doesn't matter how good the longevity - you still have to store the stuff, archive it in such a way it can be easily searched and retrieved, and also have a system so muppets can't lose/steal/misplace it!