New 5D optical storage can store up to 500TB of data for 13.8 billion years

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Today, when it comes to storing data, hard drives and flash storage are the way to go because they are much more reliable than CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks.

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However, according to a report by ExtremeTech, now Washington engineers have developed a new 5D optical storage that has a data density 10,000 times that of a Blu-ray disc.

While the concept of 5D optical storage is not new, its real-world application has been interrupted by the fact that the process of writing data – which occurs on glass planets – has been incredibly slow.

However, the new application developed by the University of Southampton has managed to significantly increase the writing speed, without affecting the reliability of the data.

For the uninitiated, this type of data storage uses three layers of nanoscale dots in a glass disc. The size, orientation and position in the three dimensions of the points gives you the five dimensions that are used to encode the data.

According to researchers, a 5D disc could be readable even after 13.8 billion years and it would also be capable of being heated to 1000 degrees Celsius.

Also read: Apple is Google’s biggest customer, stores 8.6 billion gigabytes of data

The new technique developed by doctoral student Yuhao Lei uses a femtosecond laser which has a high repetition rate. The process begins with a seeding pulse which creates a nanovide. The false impulse actually writes no data. Consecutive weak pulses use a phenomenon called near-field enhancement to gently sculpt the nanostructures.

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The researchers looked at laser pulses at various power levels, in order to find one that improved writing speed without damaging the silica in the glass and the sweet spot is around one million voxels per second. However, each bit of data requires multiple voxels in a 5D optical system, translating the transfer rate to 230 kilobytes per second.

Read also: Researchers create new encryption technique to protect photos in cloud storage

Filling a 500TB 5D optical drive would take a good two months at this rate and once the data is written it stays there, with no ability to edit or change what’s on it.

The development of 5D optical storage is still in its infancy, however, the team managed to write and recover 5 GB of text data using this medium. The data can be read using a microscope and a polarizer. Even though the storage medium is not as advanced for storing complex file types, it is surely a step in the right direction.

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