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'Superman memory crystal' in Telegraph's ten groundbreaking University projects

Published: 21 August 2015

A glass 'memory crystal' created by researchers in the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre has been selected by the Telegraph newspaper as one of ten groundbreaking University research projects.

Coined the ‘Superman memory crystal’, the glass memory enables unprecedented storage and has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films. Using nanostructured glass the Southampton scientists have experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime.

The data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

Project lead, Professor Peter Kazansky from the Optoelectronics Research Centre comments, "Using ultrafast lasers to drive self-assembled periodic structures in glass, I believe we have created the smallest embedded structures ever produced by light. Our 5D nanostructured glass provides ultra-stable, ultra-dense data storage and it is generating a lot of interest. Our next step is to develop a solution offering eternal memory and we are now seeking industrial partners to bring this exciting emerging technology to market." 

Read more about the project.

Contact Professor Peter Kazanksy to find out more.

See The Telegraph's top 10 most groundbreaking research projects.

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