23.03.16

Crystal can store terabytes of data for billions of years

5D data crystal created by university of southampton
5D disc of the Bible

UK researchers have introduced a tiny coin-shaped crystal capable of storing 360 TB of data that can survive over 13 billion years.

If you were to see the 5D, you may not think much of it - however, this circular glass disc that can fit in the palm of you hand can in fact provide storage for 360 terabytes (that’s 360,000 gigabytes) of data.

Scientists at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have used ultrafast laser technology to encode information into layers of nanostructures - separated by separated by five micrometres - in fused quartz. Information is translated into five different dimensions of the nanostructures (height, length, width, orientation and position) creating ‘5D’ data.

Following the laser writing, data can then be read by optical microscope and a polariser by the self-assembled nanostructures altering the way light travels through glass.

The robust structure can withstand temperatures of up 1000 Celsius and potentially survive 13.8 billion years.

"This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization," commented Peter Kazansky, a professor at the University of Southampton.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Magna Carta and the Bible have already been stored on discs.

Researchers at the university are currently looking for partners to develop and bring the new method of data archiving to the museums and libraries around the globe.