Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a way to record and retrieve data on the fifth dimension. The process involves using light to read information on nanostructured glass. The data files can last billions of years and are being used to store the most influential documents of our civilization to preserve our memory long after we are gone. (via U of Southampton)
Our civilization is obsessed with understanding and uncovering the past. Much of what we know about past civilization, however, has been pieced together by education assumptions and preserved artifacts. But what if we had a way to preserve the most important beliefs and documents of the era to ensure the civilizations to follow can continue to progress mankind, and learn from our mistakes? Well now, they can.
Researchers from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre have spent the past few years perfecting data storage in the fifth dimension. The new technology can store 360TB of information, withstand temperatures of 190 degrees Celsius for 13.8 billion years, and are considered to be very stable overall. The portable discs of memory are being used to store huge archives of data, including the King James Bible, Magna Carta, Newton’s Opticks, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and that’s just the beginning.
Aussie researchers base the technology on nanostructured glass, or fused quartz. The glass is encoded with femtosecond laser writing, which results in three small layers of dots separated by five micrometres. When light is shined through the small, circular storage files, the polarization of the light is modified, and the data can be read. The writing, however, must be read through an optical microscope and polarizer.
The researchers compare the innovation to Superman’s memory crystals. They say the files are five dimensional because of the 3D position of the nanostructured quartz itself, in additional to the nano size and orientation of the technology overall. The technology was demonstrated successfully at the UNESCO International Year of Light ceremony in Mexico.
ORC Professor Peter Kazansky said the innovation is thrilling in its ability to preserve the monuments of our civilization; that what we learned will be remembered. The technology has the capability to record entire libraries, and there’s no telling what information the researchers will transform into the timeless files.
The researchers will presented their findings at The International Society for Optical Engineering 2016 Conference in San Francisco, CA, last week. The researchers hope to commercialize their innovation, and are seeking industry partners to make this possible.
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