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Glass Based Data Storage

Data storage takes all kinds of forms in the modern day: DNA, holographs and now glass. Hitachi has developed glass based data storage that they say they might be able to bring to the consumer market by 2015.

In Hitachi’s research they have created a way to etch digital patterns into strong quartz glass with a laser. The data density is better than that of a CD or DVD, being etched at four different layers using varying focal points of the loser. The data can then be read using an optical microscope.

Hitachi has said that, at first, this will be for corporations that have a lot of important data that they need to preserve. For example, they suggest that it would be good for storing "historically important items such as cultural artefacts and public documents, as well as data that individuals want to leave for posterity”.

They went on to say that “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”. They plan to change this with their glass storage.

It will not be until at least 2015 until this is viable. The company picture data being sent to them, which they will then transfer on to the quartz glass. So far they have managed to store 40 MB of data per square inch, compared to a CD’s 35 MB (although Hitachi believe that adding further layers to increase capacity is possible). However, where this benefits is the durability. According to Hitachi, their accelerated aging test showed that the glass will last for hundreds of millions of years and that it stands exposure of 2000 degree Celsius heat for two hours. It is also unaffected by water or radio waves. Although glass is breakable, quartz is particularly strong and can take quite a beating.

Glass based data storage has been in development since 2009. It has taken time to get to where it is now as Hitachi wanted to improve read and write times. The data is stored on the glass using small dot patterns and they figured out a way to etch 100 dots at a time, greatly increasing the write times.

What all this means is that data stored on glass could be read by future generations using an optical microscope without making use of a proprietary drive. Pricing has not been discussed, but it can be assumed that it will come at a nice price, as all new technologies do.

Data storage is improving every day. Research is always being made to try and find new technologies and new methods of storing data. Glass based storage is just another step towards making data that cannot be corrupted and will be able to be read in the future no matter what. Although it might be hard to imagine using glass based storage in its current form in a consumer market place, if it proves popular for enterprises then it will undoubtedly be developed further.

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