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Wonder Stuff: Glass That Will Store Your Info For Ever

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Two different research teams are close to being able to use fused quartz as a recording medium.

Credit: Dik Wiersma/SPL

New meticulously focused lasers are close to enabling a durable transparent material such as glass to serve as a long-term data storage solution.

Hitachi plans to introduce a memory material made of fused quartz next year. Meanwhile, a University of Southampton team is considering recording data into fused quartz in five dimensions, using the three spatial dimensions of the crystal to write different bits of information as well as the effects of varying the intensity and polarization of the writing laser. The Southampton team says storage density would be as much as eight times greater than the Hitachi approach, enough to store terabytes of data into a piece of glass the size of a thumbnail.

The researchers say the medium would be stable up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, could survive a nuclear holocaust, and would last for up to 10 billion years. The team is now working to improve the rate at which data can be written to the glass from the current rate of kilobytes per second to megabytes per second.

From New Scientist
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