You want your Magnum Opus to be timeless? Well Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi can make it last for a few hundred million years at least.
On Monday, Hitachi unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever.
“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,” Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said. “The possibility of losing information may actually have increased. As you must have experienced, there is the problem that you cannot retrieve information and data you managed to collect.”
Hitachi’s new technology stores data in binary form, etched with a laser in three layers on the crystals at a density slightly higher than a CD, then read out with an optical microscope.
The prototype storage device is two centimetres (0.8 inches) square and just two millimetres (0.08 inches) thick and made from quartz glass, a highly stable and resilient material, used to make beakers and other instruments for laboratory use.
The chip, which is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, can be exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) for at least two hours without being damaged. It is also waterproof, meaning it could survive natural calamities, such as fires and tsunami.
The technology could come to market in three years, according to the research lab — but would likely be targeted at companies first, who would need to send in their data to be encoded.
You want future archaeologists find your Justin Bieber playlist? No? I guessed as much…