5 Dimensional, 360TB Crystals the Future of Storage?

15 Jul


Ever wondered what measures can be taken to ensure the preservation of the world’s massive amounts of data? A development team from Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC), an institution of the University of Southampton, might just have come up with the proper solution for that.

The research team, led by Jingyu Zhang, has recently unveiled a unique “5D” storage system –branded “Superman memory crystal” by some– that can allegedly store up to 360 TB of information, endure more than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (1832, to be exact), and more importantly, allow digitally encoded data to be stored in the medium for as long as a million years.

The wonders offered by the revolutionary storage system, composed of a special type of glass material, are largely thanks to the femtosecond laser technology developed by the ORC, which can read and write data at one quadrillionth of a second and emit concentrated pulses of light that encode information in a highly efficient manner. The medium in which the data is stored, notably, is also unique, consisting mostly of what appears to be “self assembled” nanostructures that are embedded within a fused quartz. According to Zhang, whatever information is inputted into the crystal storage system will be safely stored within the medium’s five separate storage dimensions.

The sample storage file tested by the university’s research team is a 300KB text document; Professor Peter Kazansky, a prominent member of the research team, expects the file to outlive humankind and serve as an important example of how Earth’s precious historical data can be preserved. Looking at the future, both Kazansky and Zhange are hopeful that the breakthrough technology will one day enter into the mainstream and be used to fulfill a variety of practical purposes.

“At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan” Zhang noted. “Museums who want to preserve information or places like the national archives where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit.”

Kazansky had an equally optimistic view: “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.”

The original paper from ORC, titled “50 Data Storage by Ultrafast laser Nanostructuring in Glass,” can be viewed in the following link:


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