Data Crystals Offer Eternal Storage

University of Southampton scientists have made a major step forward in the development of digital data storage that can survive for billions of years.

Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing.

The storage allows unprecedented properties including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1,000°C and virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature (13.8 billion years at 190°C ) opening a new era of eternal data archiving. As a very stable and safe form of portable memory, the technology could be highly useful for organisations with big archives, such as national archives, museums and libraries, to preserve their information and records.

Science fiction writers have been thinking about storing vast amounts of data in crystals for a long time. For example, in his 1961 book Return from the Stars, Stanislaw Lem wrote about crystal corn data storage crystals:

I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century...

The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents...

Lem offers the oldest unambiguous reference that I'm aware of. However, fans of Robert Heinlein might consider this reference to molecule matrix in his 1951 novel Between Planets.

Via University of Southampton; thanks to YourObedientSerpent and M. Lussier for the tip on this story.

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