July 9, 2013
5D Optical Memory In Glass Could Record Last Evidence Of Civilization
University of Southampton
Using nanostructured glass, scientists at the University of Southampton have, for the first time, experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000Â°C and practically unlimited lifetime.
A 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometers (one millionth of a meter).
The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarization of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polarizer, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses.
The research is led by the ORC researcher Jingyu Zhang and conducted under a joint project with Eindhoven University of Technology.
"We are developing a very stable and safe form of portable memory using glass, which could be highly useful for organisations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan," says Jingyu.
"Museums who want to preserve information or places like the national archives where they have huge numbers of documents, would really benefit."
The Physical Optics group from the ORC presented their ground-breaking paper at the photonics industry's renowned Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO'13) in San Jose. The paper, '5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring in Glass' was presented by the during CLEO's prestigious post deadline session.
This work was done in the framework of EU project Femtoprint.
Professor Peter Kazansky, the ORC's group supervisor, adds: "It is thrilling to think that we have created the first document which will likely survive the human race. This technology can secure the last evidence of civilisation: all we've learnt will not be forgotten."
The team are now looking for industry partners to commercialize this ground-breaking new technology.
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