Data storage

New 5D data storage technology is 10,000 times denser than Blu-Ray

The University of Southampton team have been working on the technology, called five-dimensional (5)D optical storage, for several years, having first unveiled it to the world in 2013 as a text file of 300 KB. The technology uses a femtosecond laser – which emits short, powerful bursts of light – to write data into tiny nanoscale structures on glass. Since 2013, the team of scientists has demonstrated the scalability of 5D storage by saving digital copies of documents such as the King James Bible and Magna Carta.

Reduce our reliance on transient cloud storage

Scientists and their new storage method can help meet the growing demand for long-term storage solutions in our increasingly digital world. “Individuals and organizations are generating increasingly large datasets, creating the desperate need for more efficient forms of data storage with high capacity, low power consumption and long lifespan,” says Yuhao. Lei from the University of Southampton in a press release. “While cloud-based systems are designed more for temporary data, we believe that storing 5D data in glass could be useful for longer-term data storage for national archives, museums, libraries or private organizations.”

The team’s latest development is called near-field enhancement. This allows them to create nanostructures with lower light pulses, meaning data is written at a faster rate of 1,000,000 voxels, or 230kb, per second. “This new approach improves data writing speed to a practical level, so that we can write tens of gigabytes of data in a reasonable amount of time,” Lei says. “Highly localized precision nanostructures allow for greater data capacity because more voxels can be written in a unit volume. Additionally, the use of pulsed light reduces the energy needed to write.”