New data storage solution can store the world’s data in your pocket. Forever

by: Kris CarlonFebruary 17, 2016

Superman memory crystals UDHR Southampton university

Imagine a world where you can literally store the entirety of the world’s history in your jeans pocket. Forever. Well, that world is here and that time is now. Researchers have not only already discovered – but have now improved upon – a way to store huge amounts of data on tiny slivers of quartz, not much larger than a quarter. The lifespan for these micro hard drives? If you’d had one at the Big Bang it would still be going strong.

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Researchers at Southampton University of in the UK have improved upon a process first announced four years ago, whereby femtosecond laser pulses are used to inscribe binary data on nano-structured quartz crystals. Back in early 2012, the slivers were capable of storing 40 MB per square inch – about the same as a CD – for a period of 300 million years. Today’s breakthrough ups those numbers to 360 TB of data for 14 billion years.

5D data storage Southampton University

The tiny discs, which are smaller than a half dollar, are only a few millimeters thick and presumably quite cheap. After all, they are just quartz discs. The process used to inscribe them isn’t so pedestrian though. Data is recorded “using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nano-structured dots separated by five micrometers (one millionth of a meter).”

Because we’re essentially talking about glass here, the discs are incredibly resilient: waterproof, able to withstand heat up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit or the cold of interstellar space, with a “virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature (13.8 billion years at 190°C )”. As the researchers note, because 5D digital data is “a very stable and safe form of portable memory, the technology could be highly useful for organizations with big archives, such as national archives, museums and libraries, to preserve their information and records.”


Various important texts including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Magna Carta have already been inscribed on these so-called “Superman memory crystals” and could ultimately be the means through which humanity is understood long after the human race has perished. Because the sun will die in roughly five billion years, we had better find a new home before then if we want to make full use of this eternal storage solution.

What applications do you see for quartz memory?

  • saksham

    i told u to make these articles when its been implemented in phones ! u_u

  • Eraunanottebuiaetempestosa

    We could save the genetic code of all living species to have the possibility to bring them to life once the cloning technics will be advanced enough. A sort of Noah’s Arc in binary encoding.

  • osa219

    if this enter to Hardware market..

  • Thomas DE SA

    I wonder to see what I/O speeds can it support..

  • RealityCheque

    I predict we will not see this technology even 25 years from now.

    • dedinje

      You mean 2.5 years from now?

      • cns2007

        While 25 is probably too long, it will probably be a minimum of 10-12 years before this is commercially viable.

  • Armand Bernard

    For those who don’t know: it’s most likely non-rewritable. The data on there cant be changed. This means that you definitely won’t see it on a smartphone. Plus, even if it is rewritable, it what kind of smartphone has a a high energy laser inside? battery consumption would be through the roof.

  • Ichibanmugen

    Well for sure this will never be released at least never to consumers.

  • Mayoo

    This is the last step before writing our heritage on a baby and sending him to another planet where he’ll gain superpower because of the sun and the atmosphere.

    • Uncle_Milt


  • Gangsta101

    Gotta make sure Lyrics and song of Method Man’s “Bring the pain” are stored in there somewhere. It would be a crying shame if we lost that.

  • NegativeMan

    best replacement for tape disk

  • lacompacida

    What is the read/write speed. I assume this is a ROM tech. But can data be appended after initial write ? Cost of writer and reader ? Power consumption?

  • dimitris aspetakis

    Take one of these disks, put it in your phone, and boom!!! You are able to serf the net offline!!! The whole net would be in your pocket, and it would be updated in a regular basis!!!

  • Bill Watts

    the bible was kept intact for millions of years without memory crystals but you dont hear science saying much about that :)

    • bjtheone

      You do know approximately when the Bible was written, right? You’re off by 3 orders of magnitude … Billions is way better than its current “lifespan”

      • Bill Watts

        sciences will probably use this technology to preserve secular scriptures like the quaran