Scientists at the University of Southampton in Britain have recorded and retrieved data from a slide of crystal nanostructured glass. The crystal storage medium is capable of holding 360 Terabytes of data within a DVD-sized disc. In addition to holding an immense amount of data, the crystal disks have a near limitless shelf life and can even function at extreme temperatures.
Beyond the simple curiosity factor of using crystal as a storage medium, the glass disks should gain attention for their practical application. With a storage capacity of 360 Terabytes, the new technology would exceed current generation Blu-Rays by almost 3000%. Likewise, even the largest Hard Drives top out at around 20 Terabytes and those devices require careful storage, maintenance and feature a limited lifespan. In comparison, memory crystal is stable at temperatures up to 1000 degrees and has a practically unlimited lifetime.
Research on crystal memory is led by Jingyu Zhang. “We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organizations with big archives,” said Zhang. “At the moment, companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan. Museums who want to preserve information or places like the national archives, where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit.”
The research group is currently looking for industry partners to develop the technology. The only question that remains is how cost effective will it be to turn memory crystal into a commercial grade product. With the right price point, data storage may become a whole lot simpler.
– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department