5D Storage: data storage becomes immortal on glass

Malcolm X stated: "History is the memory of a people, and without a memory, man is reduced to the rank of an inferior animal." The aim of the work of the researchers at the University of Southampton is contained in a single and short sentence. The British team has created Storage 5D, a glass microchip that makes data storage immortal .

At the origins of computer science, punch cards were responsible for storing and saving data. The 1950s saw the birth of magnetic tape which catalyzed the process of creation, storage and reading, revolutionizing the audiovisual industry. The enormous technological evolution has accelerated the emergence of numerous data storage media. From the second half of the 1950s to the present there have been hard disks, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, USB sticks and finally the cloud. The common factor of all these technologies is their weakness: a simple blackout at the wrong time could send billions of documents up in smoke! The team from the University of Southampton has highlighted precisely this problem.

Evolution of data storage media. Source: Nexus Edizioni
Evolution of data storage media. Source: Nexus Edizioni

Storage 5D revolutionizes data storage using glass

In 2013, researchers took their first steps in the Optoelectronics Research Center to ensure eternal life for information. Today, after eight years, the project finally comes to life soon. The merit is the union between a special laser printer and glass discs . Thanks to a laser beam, in fact, a text file is written in a glass chip.

Why "Storage 5D"? The name embodies the technology behind this invention. In the IT field, the term storage identifies all hardware and media for storing large amounts of information. In this case there are five elements necessary for the filing process: the three dimensions of the space in which the glass chip is present plus the polarity and intensity of the laser beam . The data is therefore stored in five dimensions, but in space equivalent to a coin.

Technology and characteristics of the "new memory"

At the base of this discovery there are: the characteristics of glass, a highly inert material to guarantee the duration and stability of the information contained inside and the potential of the laser beam coming from the printer. The printer creates a highly concentrated pulsed light beam, the laser beam arrives quickly on the glass chip, altering the nanostructure of the arrangement of the atoms. This transformation allows for the emergence of extraordinarily small holes, and it is in these holes that information can be stored. Each hole can contain up to 3 bytes, for a total of 360 Terabytes of memory in a single microchip .

The Storage 5D glass microchip. Source: Tom's Hardware
The Storage 5D glass microchip. Source: Tom's Hardware

Southampton researchers detailed the characteristics of the glass chip to confirm the stability of this archiving and storage process. The microchip can withstand temperatures from 1 ° C to 190 ° C and its lifespan is 13.8 billion years. Our memory is in good hands!

The team from the University of Southampton called this discovery "Superman memory cristal" to symbolically recall the technologies used in the superhero film. He also made this invention concrete by saving what can be considered the symbols of human history: the Bible, the Magna Carta, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Newton's Opticks . Huge volumes, a very high number of pages enclosed in a very small infinitesimal from today safe. The memory of the entire life of the universe can be enclosed in a chip the size of a dime.

The article Storage 5D: data storage becomes immortal on glass comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .