- Scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of Southampton have developed a new way to store information by encoding the nanostructures in glass, which have a virtually unlimited lifetime when stored at room temperature.
- Scientists first showed off the technique in 2013, but now they say they’ve perfected it. A one-inch disc can store approximately 360 terabytes of data. Scientists estimate that when stored at 190 degrees Celsius, the disks could have a maximum lifespan of 13.8 billion years and are stable up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, according to the researchers.
- Rather than storing information on the surface of a disc, like a CD, the discs story information in physical nanostructures that are imperceptible to the naked eye.
These so-called 5D disks are not the floppy disks, or even the CDs, of yore. Instead, with disks roughly the size of a U.S. quarter, scientists could index humanity’s entire catalogue of information not just for future generations, but future civilizations. The disks could help avoid a catastrophic loss of information, such as the historic destruction of the library of Alexandria.
Considering the vast quantities of a data created every day, researchers will look to expand data storage capabilities. For example, just think of how many pictures the average consumer can take every day. That information has to be stored somewhere.
Though right now it is not easy to create the disks outside of a lab, large in part because of the cost of the lasers required to create the disks, its is "relatively easy" to read the disks, according to a report from The Verge. The researchers said that in future decades, there will likely be the equivalent of a DVD player for the disks.