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Hitachi reveals quartz glass that’s capable of storing data for millions of years

Remember when being able to store files to a tiny USB stick was something to boast about? We do, and we remember when owning a 1GB USB stick was a boast. That’s nothing compared to Hitachi’s new invention, which allows data to be stored in glass.

The Japanese company has developed a method of storing data in inch-square pieces of quartz glass, using a special method that imprints data as dots. Furthermore, once the data is stored it’s safe from pretty much anything.

The new technology, which was unveiled in Tokyo earlier this week, uses a high-precision laser to etch data into sheets of quartz glass, burning tiny dots of binary information.

Retrieving the data isn’t as simple as plugging a USB into your PC or laptop however, with an optical microscope and specialised software to decipher the dots and translate the binary code.

While the technology is very much in its infancy, its advantages are already very clear. The tiny squares of quartz glass are extremely tough and can withstand almost anything thrown at it, keeping any data stored completely safe and readable all the while. Early tests have heated the glass to 1000 degrees Celcius for over two hours, with the data perfectly readable afterwards.

As with all storage technologies, this one is going to start off with very low capacities. A single square inch of multi-layered quartz glass maxes out at around 40MB of storage space, so you won’t be able to store your movies unless you’ve got a pretty large pane. Still, that’s plenty of storage to keep images and text documents very safe and secure, after all, who’s going to suspect a tiny piece of glass?

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