Researchers at the University of Southampton have upped the ante for data storage by using nanostructured glass and femtosecond laser writing to record and retrieve digital data using five dimensions (5D).
First demonstrated in 2013 with a 300kb digital version of a text file, 5D recording can now store up to 360TB per disc, and has a thermal stability of up to 1,000°C with a lifespan of 13.8 billion years at 190°C. The scientists have successfully stored the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton’s Opticks, the Magna Carta, and the Kings James Bible using this new technology.
The documents were recorded using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre).
The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polariser, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses.
Referencing the Superman movies, the researchers are calling the 5D glass memory the “Superman memory crystal” after the memory crystals used in the films, and the fifth dimension of recording comes from size and orientation of the data as well as the three dimensional position.
“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 University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre. “This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”
The research team is looking for partners to further develop and bring this new data storage technology to consumers.
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