The present-day CDs and DVDs which help store data, on an average have a lifespan of many decades. Beyond this period, usually the material begins to decay. That is why, since long researchers have been working hard to create storage devices that would offer lifetime data storage, although attaining even a 100 years of lifespan has proven challenging so far. But now a new study has revealed a new technique of data storage that lasts for a good 3×1020 years at ambient temperatures- a time span that virtually heralds a new era in data archiving.
This revolutionary research work conducted by Jingyu Zhang, Martynas Beresna, Mindaugus Gecevicius and Peter G. Kazansky, who are from the University of Southampton, UK has recently been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. According to Zhang, their study is of importance, for in this internet age, there is plenty of data being generated by millions of netizens from around the world that only adds to the problem of data storage. Indeed, for many individuals, organizations and governments, storing data permanently is a necessity where science, military and confidential information are concerned. Zhang has reportedly told Phys.org that although today there are advanced storage technologies such as the M-disc and another one by Hitachi that are said to last for millions of years; he believed that it was their work that provided the ultimate solution to eternal data storage problems.
The researchers of this study further explained that normally with data storage one has to compromise between lifespan and capacity i.e. you get either one or the other, but not both. However the new optical storage technique developed by the UK investigators affords both lifetime and capacity that can give hundreds of terabytes of storage capacity for a seemingly limitless time period.
In this technique data is recorded using light pulses or laser that creates nanogratings or dots carrying required information onto a piece of quartz. Each nanograting in the optical storage device has the capacity to carry three bits of data, which implies triple the storage capacity as compared to existing devices. In addition, the laser used in the technique allows for multilevel encoding which again expands how much data can be archived on the optical discs. In this type of a CD-DVD-sized optical disc, data will be lost only when the nanovoids that exist between nanogratings collapse. Using accelerated aging method when the decay rate for the nanovoids was calculated, it was found that these particles decay over billions of years, which led them to the conclusion that this data storage system can be used for a lifetime.
While optical data storage methods have been devised earlier too, their rate of data recordings have been slow which make them of little use for all practical purposes. In contrast, this new technique has a considerably high speed of writing. Moreover, the researchers are hoping to further improve their technology by way of increasing capacity further and by increasing the writing speed from the current 6KB/s to 12KB/s.