This Long-Lasting Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB on a Quartz Disc

If you ever wanted to make absolutely sure you back something up indefinitely, the you’d might like to check out this digital data storage technique developed by researchers at Southampton University in the UK, which uses laser light to store 360 terabytes of information on nanostructured quartz discs. Also, by “indefinitely,” I mean that it would be stored for up to 14 billion years. YOWZERS!

Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB on to a Quartz Disc—ForeverSouthampton’s technique uses femtosecond laser pulses to write data in the 3D structure of quartz at the nanoscale. These pulses create three layers of nanostructured dots, each just five microns above the other. The team has written a series of major works onto these small glass discs— including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Newton’s Opticks, the Magna Carta and the Kings James Bible.


Any changes in the structure are readable by interrogating the sample using another pulse of light and recording its polarisation —or orientation of the waves—after it’s passed through. The data density on these discs suggests that they could possibly squeeze almost 360 terabytes onto one, single, tiny piece of quartz. The team also mention that the data is extremely stable and could last as long as 13.8 billion years at temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. DOUBLE-YOWZERS!!!

[Thanks Southampton University]

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