University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC) scientists announced on Monday that they have developed a technique for 5D digital data storage that is capable of storing that data for billions of years.

This revolutionary technique works through ultra-fast laser writing and it carves data into a thermally stable disc. The storage allows up to 360 TB per disc, thermal stability up to 1,000°C , and at room temperature it can last 13.8 billion years.

The file consists of three layers of nano-structured dots which are apart by five micrometers and these dots change the way that light travels via glass. This modifies the polarization of light that can be read using both an optical microscope and a polariser, which is an optical filter that allows specific light to be passed through, blocking other light.

SOURCE|Optoelectronics Research Centre, YouTube

This technology was demonstrated first in 2013 by a Southampton researcher team, but at that time storage capacity was 300kb for 5D recording. By three years, they had successfully developed a recording technique and also encoded 5D data storage for important documents of human history such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Peter Kazansky, a professor at the ORC, says: “It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”

This technology could be a very secure and stable form of portable memory. It will replace the need to store data in the clunky, often failing hard drives. Harddrive.jpg

It can be useful to save and preserve countless historical documents and records from being destroyed or lost.

Researchers will present their research at the SPIE Photonics West Conference in San Francisco, USA. SPIE is the International Society for Optics and Photonics. A 5D data encoded copy of the UDHR was also recently presented at the closing ceremony of the International Year of Light to UNESCO in Mexico.