A nano-structured glass disc can store 5-dimensional digital data for billions of years, researchers at the University of Southampton said.
The digital data, inscribed on the glass with laser, has a projected shelf-life of 13.9 billion years at temperatures of 374 degrees or lower, and can store as much as 360 terabytes on a single disc.
Digital copies of important documents could now outlast the human race, the researchers said. Earlier this month, the research center produced a disc that had a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations.
“It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations,” Peter Kazansky, said in a statement. “This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we’ve learned will not be forgotten.”
Light patterns are encoded onto the nano-structured glass, which modifies the polarization of the light. The data can be read through the use of a optical microscope and a polarizer.
Five-dimensional data was first proven possible in an experiment in 2013, with the inscription of a 300kb text document.
The technology has been recommended for the storage of libraries and entire national archives, and the researchers are looking to turn it into a commercial product.