Eternal Data Storage
Eternal Data Storage: The quest for high-density immutable storage has taken a big leap forward thanks to “Superman crystals” developed by scientists at the University of Southampton. The glass discs are reportedly capable of storing up to 360 TB/disc of data and will last almost forever at room temperature (or as long as the current 13.8 billion year age of our Universe at 190° C/374° F). CDs and DVDs can deteriorate in decades, and hard drives have an ultimate 100 percent failure rate. In fact until recently, researchers focused on extending the life of digital data have found it challenging to exceed even 100 years.
To record data, a femtosecond (fs) laser delivers ultrashort (280-fs, with 1 fs = 10-15seconds) light pulses onto a piece of quartz, creating microscopic dots (nano-gratings) in the quartz. Each dot encodes three bits of information including the position of the dot and the intensity and polarization of the light in three layers of the quartz. Ultimately a disc the size of a CD or DVD with about 1,000 layers would have a data capacity of hundreds of terabytes, compared with hundreds of megabytes for today’s commercial discs. Current documents printed in this format as proof of concept include the King James Bible, the Magna Carta and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A paper on the research was presented this past Wednesday at The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco.