New ‘Superman memory crystal’ data storage could outlive the human race

Scientists are creating new technology dubbed ‘Superman memory crystal’, which can store up to 360TB of data onto a miniature glass disk.

The tech uses lasers and nanostructures to record data and could allow people to preserve data and documents for billions of years – meaning it could potentially outlive the human race.

Scientists at the University of Southampton are using femtosecond laser writing, which gives off short, intense pulses of light to inscribe information onto three layers of nanostructured dots.

Each layer is separated by five micrometres, and uses self-assembling nanostructures which alter the path of light traveling through the glass in order for it to be read using an optical microscope and a polariser.

The ‘crystals’ then reveal information in 5D – size, orientation, and the three dimensional position of the nanostructures.

The scientists say the technique is both safe and portable, and could be used to preserve the records of major organisations.

They have already used it to record historical documents including Newton’s Opticks and King James Bible, along with the Magna Carta and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Data scanning specialists Pearl Scan have championed the future-proofing news.

“These new advances in technology are great for preserving such important parts of our history and allowing anyone in the world access to historical, religious and significant documents,” said Naveed Ashraf, managing director of Pearl Scan.

“We have seen a multitude of developments since our inception over a decade ago, however this latest piece of technology is by far one of the most exciting.”

With the modern world relying more and more on computers, preserving past documents and important pieces of information is an important part of future-proofing, as businesses and individuals alike reap the benefits of storing vital data on computers and servers, believes Pearl Scan, who has a long history of working with businesses and specialist organisations to capture historical data to safeguard its longevity.

Superman image via Shutterstock

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