Sapphire Disk is not the only thing that will be preserving data forever, even after human civilization. Japanese electronics firm Hitachi has developed a way of storing data that can keep information safe for hundreds of millions of years using quartz glass. Hitachi’s chief executive officer, Hiroaki Nakanishi, announced the new storage method on September 24, in Tokyo.
The current media of storage like optical discs or hard drives can’t sustain for long (in the context of time). These can’t sustain extreme conditions and will be irreparably damage over the course of time. But, the quartz glass has been made in such a way that it can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, and therefore it as well as the data inside remains safe almost forever. The quartz glass is 2 cm (0.79 inch) square and just 2 mm (0.079 inch) thick. It is waterproof, highly stable and resilient. The glass can tolerate 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) heat for at least two hours without being damaged. Senior researcher Takao Watanabe said, “We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken.”
Hitachi’s new storage medium stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass. It has four layers of dots. At each square inch (6.5 sq. cm), the glass can hold 40 megabytes data . Storing the data is one thing, but reading it is quite another. The data can be read via an ordinary optical microscope.
Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said, “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.”
Right now, the quartz glass storage method is in prototype stage. It still can’t store a lot of information in the available space. But Hitachi has plans to increase the storage capacity vertically, by adding up layers.
Hitachi has not decided when this quartz glass will be available commercially. But it has given a hint that the technology is not for consumers, but rather for government agencies, museums and religious organisations. Hitachi plans to give more information on the quartz glass technology at the International Symposium on Optical Memory in Tokyo, Japan, on September 30.
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