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The Future of Data Storage?

future of storage

The Future of Data Storage?

Data storage has often been taken for granted, with seemingly unlimited amounts of storage available. However as companies grow and change to adapt to a paperless environment, this has got some people thinking about storing it all. But that’s where ‘Superman’ comes in. Well, not actually Superman, but something being dubbed the ‘Superman memory crystal’ – aptly named as it evokes images of the memory crystals featured in the 1980 film, ‘Superman II’.

How does it work?

The ‘Superman’ technology is the process of etching data into glass with a laser. In order to create these revolutionary crystals, researchers at the University of Southampton use femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second!) laser writing which gives off short, intense pulses of light to inscribe information onto three layers of nanostructured dots which are five micrometres apart. This then uses self-assembling nanostructures which alter the path of light traveling through the glass so it can be read using an optical microscope and a polariser. With storage properties including a whopping 360 TB/disc data capacity, the crystal is unlike anything we have seen before.

Why is it useful?

According to the expert scientists who pioneered the crystal's design, it could be used for a whole host of storage needs. Ideal for scanning in historical documents, such as books, records and testaments, the technology means that future generations will be able to have access to our history at the click of a button – cementing our history and ensuring we will not be forgotten. Some of the documents that have already been scanned in include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Newton's Opticks, the Magna Carta and King James Bible. Additionally, and perhaps more valuable on a day-to-day basis, the technology could prove to be a game-changer for large organisations and corporations with a vast amount of files to maintain. Just like Superman, the crystal is pretty tough to destroy – boasting a thermal stability up to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius). And even able to outlive the caped-crusader, it’s predicted that the crystal could last around 14 billion years.

Where next?

The technology first came about as part of a 2013 experiment, in which a quartz chip successfully recorded a 300 kb digital copy of a text file in 5D. Obviously developing a great deal in the last three years, the crystal could be one of the greatest developments of the 21st century. Further developing the technology, the team’s next goal is to increase the speed of writing and develop a microscope-free read-out drive by developing the technology similar to what is used for reading conventional CD/DVDs introducing the additional two dimensions.