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Hitachi’s quartz slate saves data forever

Hitachi recently announced that they have developed a new type of data storage medium; a piece of glass, which unlike conventional storage like hard drives or DVDs, will save your data forever.

On Monday, Hitachi unveiled a new type of storage medium that will be able to store data indefinitely, unlike any storage medium currently available. Conventional storage, such as DVDs and hard drives, though capable of holding large quantities of data, are all susceptible to losing that data. An unrecorded CD or DVD only has a life span of around five to ten years, and a hard drive would be hard pressed to last more than a few decades. Wear and tear, magnetic interference and many other factors limit how long your data will remain safe, but Hitachi hopes to change that.

The Japanese tech firm has developed a glass slate, two centimeters square and just two millimeters thick, to serve as a prototype for their new storage medium. Data is inscribed into the slate as a series of binary-coded dots on it's surface, and there are four layers of dots to every slate. The data is read by a computer through the use of an optical microscope. Currently, the slate is able to hold 6 MB of data per centimeter square, roughly the same as a CD, but Hitachi reports they will likely be able to improve this number in the future.

Hitachi's new storage medium, during the unveiling on September 24 in Tokyo


The data slate is constructed from quartz, which is commonly used to make laboratory equipment and is both stable and resistant to damage; the slate can, reportedly, be exposed to a 1000 C flame for up to two hours without taking damage, and is resistant to many chemicals. Furthermore, since data is inscribed onto the slate as a series of dots, radio waves, magnets and water exposure will not affect the stored information. Hitachi's senior researcher, Takao Watanabe explained that "data will survive unless this hard glass is broken".

At this time, Hitachi has decided not to market the new technology for commercial purposes, but will instead be reaching out to governments, museums and religious organizations to offer storage. Even though we may not be able to buy these slabs for personal use any time soon, the idea of having a means of permanently recording our knowledge for future generations is an exciting thought. That is, assuming we retain the hardware necessary for reading the data slates.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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