Researchers from the University of Twente in Netherlands have concocted a type of storage medium that will supposedly preserve data for a million year or more.

Million year disk Researchers claim to have created a million year data storage disk

Jeroen de Vries and his colleagues based their long-lasting drive on the idea that data needs to be stored on an energy minimum that is separated from other minima and energy barrier.  For instance, a 1 to 0 conversion will require a high amount of energy, which can be heat or by some other means.

In their calculations, the researchers found that for a drive to last a million years, it should take about 63KBT for such a barrier to be broken and for the conversion event to occur.  According to de Vries, the suggested values are “well within range of today’s technology.”

Using a combination of tungsten (data storage medium) and silicon nitride (protective layer), de Vries and his fellow researchers concocted a drive that can withstand extremely high heat, have low thermal expansion coefficient, as well as high resistance to fracture.

The disk was made using standard patterning techniques and the data were stored in the form of QR codes with lines 100nm wide.  To test their disk, the crew subjected the data storage to extremely high temperature, and found that their resilient drive can, in theory, last more than a million years.  For a drive to last a million years, it should be able to survive 1 hour at 445K, but their disk was able to withstand nearly double that of the suggested temperature.

There are still much to be done in regards to how this type of disk technology can be commercialized, but if work in this area continues we might be able to say that we’ll never lose our data again (unless the disk itself becomes misplaced).

Source: technology review