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Do you use an USB to store files? How is your storage capacity? How does 360 terabytes sound? Not impressed yet? It also has thermal stability up to 1,000°C and virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature, or 13.8 billion years at 190°C. Scientists at the University of Southampton have made a major step forward in the development of digital data storage that allows information to be kept safely, for a very, very long time.


The technology was first experimentally presented in 2013 when a 300kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D. The documents were written and recorded using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre). So far, major documents from human history such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton’s Opticks, and Kings James Bible have been saved as digital copies that could survive the human race.


The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of microscope and a polariser, similar to Polaroid sunglasses. This is how the groundbreaking “Superman Memory Crystal” was created and used.


The research project was led by the University of Southampton’s Optoekectribucs Research Centre (ORC). Professor Peter Kazansky, from the ORC, said. “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.” 

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