The Answer to Future’s Data Storage Lies in Superman Memory Crystals

By: | November 12th, 2014

Quartz glass, or “memory crystals”, may be what the future uses for data storage. Its massive life span, and 5 dimensional storage capabilities, will easily kick the industry of magnetic tape out of the game once it’s off the ground.

What makes it 5 dimensional is the layers of the glass. Now it still follows the standard binary method for data storage. By using a femtosecond laser to alter the physical structure of fused quartz at the nanoscale, a “dot” with a different refractive index can be created to denote the binary digit one; zeroes are indicated by the absence of a dot. What makes it 5D is the polarity and intensity of the dot encoded into its structure as it’s made, adding complexion to how the data is read.

So, no, it doesn’t transcend the boundaries of space time if that’s what you’re wondering. However, the theorized application of the 4th and 5th dimensions are relatively new. Quartz glass as a storage device containing the 3D parameters has been in research since 2009, and has been theorized since the early 90’s.

One of these memory crystals in the shape of a standard disk can potentially hold a staggering 350 terabytes, or 75,000 DVDs compared to the maximum 4.7 gigs a disk with magnetic tape can hold, the comparison is drastic to say the least. Traditionally, most people and companies will back up their computers every 3-5 years because of the short lifespan and fragility of current hardware. On the other hand, quartz glass will have the potential to withstand heat of up to 1000 degrees and last millions of years (potentially longer than the human race). This makes it highly valuable for the need of storing vast archives of data.

It has been dubbed “superman memory crystals” because researchers have replicated holograms similar to the style featured in superman films with this technology, and the name suits it rather well, having the ability to store almost unlimited data for thousands of years in almost any environment when the technology becomes public is almost hard to imagine.

Austin Miller

I am an aspiring physicist, with an interest in art and technology.

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