Using optical discs (opens in new tab) for long-term storage could soon be feasible for organizations as researchers have developed a new laser-writing method for producing high-density nanostructures in silica glass that is both fast and energy efficient.
These nanostructures allow for long-term five-dimensional (5D) optical data storage (opens in new tab) which is more than 10,000 times denser than the optical disc storage technology used by Blue-Ray (opens in new tab) discs.
Doctoral researcher from the University of Southampton, Yuhao Lei explained in a press release (opens in new tab) how 5D data storage in glass provides an alternative to cloud storage (opens in new tab) for information that needs to be archived for safe keeping, saying:
“Individuals and organizations are generating ever-larger datasets, creating the desperate need for more efficient forms of data storage with a high capacity, low energy consumption and long lifetime. While cloud-based systems are designed more for temporary data, we believe that 5D data storage in glass could be useful for longer-term data storage for national archives, museums, libraries or private organizations.”
5D optical data storage
Lei and his colleagues have published a new scientific article (opens in new tab) in Optical Publishing Group's journal for high-impact research describing their new method for writing data to glass. Their method involves writing data that encompasses two optical dimensions plus three spatial dimensions. As a result, this new approach can write at speeds of 1m voxels per second which is equivalent to recording around 0.23MB per second.
As the physical mechanism used by the researchers is generic, Lei believes that their writing method could also be used for “fast nanostructuring in transparent materials for applications in 3D integrated optics and microfuidics”.
By using their new method, the researchers were able to write 5GB of text data onto a silica glass disc that was around the size of a conventional CD (opens in new tab) with nearly 100 percent readout accuracy. Each voxel contained four bits of information and every two voxels corresponded to a text character.
Due to the writing density available from the researcher's new writing method, each disc will be able to hold 500TB of data. However, by upgrading the system to allow parallel writing, the researchers say that it would be possible to write 500TB of data in about 60 days.
Although it would be faster to write the same amount of data to multiple solid state drives (SSD (opens in new tab)), Lei and the other researchers' method is designed for longer-term archiving just as tape storage (opens in new tab) is.
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