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5D-discs that can store data forever!

Scientists from the Optoelectronics Research Centre, ORC) of the University of Southampton have developed a new digital storage technology that not only has a very high density of information recording, but also is able to provide safety of the data for billions of years. The basis of this technology, named Eternal 5D, went to the recording process, search and read of stored data in the five “dimensions” with the help of ultrashort light pulses of femtosecond laser.


Eternal 5D technology has many unprecedented characteristics. On one optical disc, a size of a few centimeters, can be stored 360 TB of information. The disc can withstand short-term heating to a temperature of 1000 °C without damaging any information. The period of storage at a temperature of 190 °C is 13.8 billion years and at room temperature, this drive is capable to store data indefinitely.


In the Eternal 5D technology, the information is recorded using a femtosecond laser, that produces an extremely short pulses of very intense light. Each information is recorded in the three layers of nanostructured silica glass at points which are separated by the distance of five micrometers. The impact of the laser on the nanostructure of the glass changes the way it acts on the passing through it light. As a result, the light changes its polarization and other parameters that are exactly those two additional informational “dimensions”. The reading of information is performed by a device that combines the functions of an optical microscope and a polarization filter.

The first mention of Eternal 5D technology dated year 2013 when scientists with its help managed to record in five dimensions on a disc a text file of 300 kb. But now, in this form on optical disc are stored Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Newton’s “Opticks” and many other documents from the history of mankind.

“We have created a technology that allows to write a lot of information on the carrier and keep it safe for our distant descendants. It is also likely that recorded on the Eternal 5D disc information might be the last surviving evidence of the existence of human civilization.” – said Professor Peter Kazanksy.

This technology is implemented in the form of an operational data recording devices, can be very useful for all organizations with large files, including government archives, museums and libraries, which will have at its disposal the ability to store huge amounts of information in a small space and unlimited time. But now scientists from the University of Southampton are already looking for partners from the industrial sector, interested in the further development and commercialization of innovative data storage technology.


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