Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB On To A Quartz Disc, Forever

Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB on to a Quartz Disc -- Forever

Want to make sure you back something up indefinitely? Then you could do worse than a digital data storage technique that uses laser light to store 360 terabytes of information on nanostructured quartz for up to 14 billion years. Developed by researchers at Southampton University in the UK, the technique uses femtosecond laser pulses to write data in the 3D structure of quartz at the nanoscale. The pulses create three layers of nanostructured dots, each just five microns above the other. The changes in the structure can be read by interrogating the sample with another pulse of light and recording its polarisation -- the orientation of the waves -- after it's passed through.

The team has now written a series of major works to small glass discs -- including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Newton's Opticks, the Magna Carta and the Kings James Bible. The density of the data aboard these discs suggests that they could squeeze a total of 360 terabytes onto a single piece of quartz. They also point out that the data is extremely stable: It could endure for as long as 13.8 billion years at temperatures up to 176C.

The idea of archiving data in this way has been around for a little while, but until now the density of data storage has been modest. Back in 2012, a similar technique was used to store 6.2MB per square centimetre -- approximately the same density of a music CD. The new advance, though, makes the technique a genuine means of archiving vast quantities of information in perpetuity.

[Southampton University]



    Whatever format they've used - it will probably be obsolete in the next 50 years....

    yeah, but whats its read-write speed?

      A valid point.
      However, as it did not mention whether it is re-writable, I would think it would not matter so much whether it takes an hour or a week to write/read it...
      The idea is a failsafe way to backup data.

      Personally I would be interested to see whether the data distorted under different frequencies. Based on the theory about Hormany and Energy storage within crystals

        honestly, I was being facetious.

        totally understand this is just a tech demo at the moment & the practicalities of it arent the immediate focus.

        actually think it's pretty damn cool.

        Well, it would matter if it took a year to backup 360TB for instance, we don't know what the current write speed is.
        Anyone going to the conference?

    Theoretically 360TB, but how much did they *actually* store and retrieve in this test?
    It sounds like it was only a few megabytes?

    Last edited 17/02/16 12:00 pm

    Damn shame these will only be able to hold half my porn collection.

      Give it a few days, it will be only a 1/4 of your collection!

    13.8 billion years from now...

    Assistant: Sir, we found these disc's, but I can't seem to work out what file system they're formatted with...

    Manager: Pfft, turf 'em.


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