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Quartz storage medium developed by Hitachi researchers

updated 07:16 pm EDT, Mon September 24, 2012

New storage has low data density, but extremely durable

Hitachi has developed a prototype storage media, filing information on slivers of quart glass that can endure extreme environmental conditions without degrading. The new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin layer of quartz which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope and associated software package.

The prototype storage device is two CM (.79 inches) square and just two MM (.079 inches) thick. Quartz is the same material as used to make some beakers and other instruments for laboratory use, and can be exposed to a high radiation flux or heated to 1,000C (1,832F) for at least two hours with no damage to the lattice or the data. The material is resistant to many chemicals, has a high resistance to radiation, and is unaffected by radio waves.

The material is currently four layers thick, and has the same data density as a music CD, about 40MB per square inch. The researchers believe that adding more layers to the substrate should not be a problem.

 "The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones," Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said.

Hitachi hasn't announced any practical implementations of the technology as of yet. Government, religious, and educational institutions with large volumes of text as opposed to multimedia are the most likely first customers.

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    So, is this likely to be something we-the-consumers will ultimately get as read-write, or read-only? The description kind of suggests that this will be read-only, like a pressed CD, which means... well, it's still impressive for preservationists, but not terribly useful in a world where we distribute things over the Internet.

    (Right now, as far as long-term preservation goes, the best preservationists can do with digital data is to either require that things get copied every couple of years at most -- which sucks compared to archival of non-digital materials; microfilm which is stored properly can theoretically last several centuries without any human intervention whatsoever and can be read without electricity if civilization were to collapse -- or has to be stored on pressed CDs -- burned CDs degrade much more quickly, and the last I heard, DVDs don't live up to archival requirements -- which is both cumbersome and involves space limitations. So this would be good for preservation and long-term storage regardless, but if it's read-only I don't see it reaching the mass market.)

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    That looks cool. It looks like we are about to be able to crack the code on the ancient crystal skull.

  1. blahblahbber


    Joined: 02-01-05

    "memory" has always been the idea for quartz... gemologists know this. Nothing new here.

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