New dye-based technique could make tape storage obsolete

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Scientists from Harvard’s George Whitesides laboratory have developed a new way to store digital data which they say is not just cheaper, but could last for “thousands of years”. 

As reported in the ACS Central Science Report, the method revolves around seven common mixtures of fluorescent dye. The dyes are dropped through an inkjet printer onto an epoxy surface. After that, a special microscope can read the varying wavelengths of light emitted by the dyes, thus decoding the binary messages. Anything from documents, books, photos, videos, to any other form of digital archives, can be saved, and read this way, the researchers claim.

Unlike today’s storage methods, whose lifespan is estimated at about 40 years, the dye could last “thousands of years”. After printing the data onto the epoxy, there’s no energy needed to maintain the records. What’s more, the very nature of the process makes it immune to water damage, or hacking, leading scientists to believe it could be an ideal solution for storing sensitive data. 

Archive of the future

The read/write capabilities of this new method are relatively slow, making it a potentially good solution for long-term storage, but not good for day-to-day activities - and it’s cheaper to produce.

However, when it comes to the read/write capabilities, although it’s faster than any other molecular information storage method to date, it’s still pretty slow compared to SSDs and HDDs of today.

While the dye system averages 128 bits per second write speed, and 459 bits per second read speed, today’s typical 7200 RPM HDDs deliver a read/write speed of 80-160MB/s. SSDs, on the other hand, can deliver read/write speeds of between 200 MB/s to 550 MB/s.

These numbers considered, the dye method would only be viable for long-term archival storage, such as cloud backup solutions.

The researchers have licensed the technology to a new digital data storage company, it was further said, with the goal’s company to turn it into a commercial product.a

Via: Tom's Hardware

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.