“The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven’t necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones. The possibility of losing information may actually have increased.” -Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii
To combat this problem, Hitachi is looking towards an unlikely source: slivers of quartz glass.
Quartz glass is perfect for data storage due to it’s incredible strength and longevity. Quartz glass is waterproof, chemical resistant, unhindered by radio waves and can withstand temperatures up to 1000° Celsius.
“We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken,” said Hitachi senior researcher Takao Watanabe.
Within quartz glass, digital data is stored in binary form. A laser beam is used to record dots within layers of incredibly thin sheets of quartz glass. An optical microscope, or any computer that understands binary code, can read the stored data in the future.
A standard piece of Hitachi’s quartz glass measures less than 1 square inch and is just .08 inches thick! Within each tiny sliver, 40 MB of data can currently be stored.
The storage capacity is obviously the main hindrance, but quartz glass has a couple things working in it’s favor. First, a number of these quartz slivers can easily be stacked together without taking up much physical space. Second, the technology has a lot of room for growth. Quartz glass data storage compares nicely to solid state drives or SSDs, which, in their infancy could only store megabytes worth of data, but can now hold terabytes of data.
As the news was just announced, it’s uncertain when quartz glass will be commercially available. Dependable long term hard data back-up as a complement to the cloud infrastructure beginning to dominate our lives will certainly be a welcome addition.
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