Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years
Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years

Superman memory crystal – Scientists have created nanostructured glass discs that can store digital data for 13.8 billion years


Scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data using ultrafast laser writing in the nanostructured glass. The new 5D glass discs that they have fabricated is capable of storing 360TB of data, and can store digital data for billions of years. The team of Scientists at the Optoelectronic Research Centre of Southampton University in the UK took to calling it Superman memory crystal.

The thermal stability of the new 5D glass discs, Superman memory crystal, is as high as 1,000°C (1,832°F), and even at 190°C, or 374°F, the disc and the digital data on it will remain intact for 13.8 billion years. This finding comes as a blessing to organizations with large archives of data.

Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years
Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years

The technology was first experimentally demonstrated in 2013 when a 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D. Now, the team has already saved copies of the major documents of human history such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton’s Opticks, The Magna Carta and The King James Bible on these tiny discs.

To create the 5D glass discs or Superman memory crystal, Scientists from the University of Southampton used a process called femtosecond laser writing, which creates small discs of glass using an ultrafast laser that generates short and intense pulses of light. These pulses can write data in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre).

Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years
Superman memory crystal – a 5D Glass Discs can store 360TB data for 13.8 billion years

The team behind the new 5D glass discs – Superman memory crystal – says these discs could be most useful for institutions who deal with large archives: libraries, museums, and anywhere else extensive records are kept.

“It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations,” said Peter Kazansky, from the ORC. “This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

The Scientists will present their research at the photonics industry’s renowned SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco, USA this week. The invited paper, ‘5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Writing in Glass’ will be presented on Wednesday 17 February.

Fabrication process for 5D glass discs

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