Scientists in the University of Southampton have been researching and working on an optical storage medium that can store 360TB of data and will last a million years, as well as being thermally stable up to 1000°c. Obviously, this is a tremendous amount of data to store as well as an almost unimaginable time span.

It works by using nanostructured glass and lasers. The data is recorded in a self-assembled nanostructure created in fused quartz. A single 300KB copy of a text file was recorded in 5D using an ultra fast laser that produces extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file was written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by 5 micrometres, one millionth of a metre.

We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organisations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan,” says Jingyu, one of the scientists working on the project.

Could this mean that massive RAID arrays to store data could come to and end? Will it be economically viable in our life time? Only time will tell…


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