UK scientists develop superman memory crystal

Scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a new form of data storage based on nanostructured glass. It’s been called the 5D Superman memory crystal, in homage to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films. It can record and retrieve data using five dimensions including the size and orientation as well as the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.
The data is recorded via femtosecond laser writing to self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polariser, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses. The storage allows for up to 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime.
The research, which is conducted under a joint project with Eindhoven University of Technology, is led by Jingyu Zhang from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre. He commented: “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.”


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