In a former wallpaper factory in Chiswick, west London, a start-up firm has been developing a long-term storage system that uses lasers to burn tiny holograms into a light-sensitive polymer.

Chief executive Charlie Gale points out that with magnetic tape, data can only be stored on the surface, whereas holograms can store data in multiple layers.

“You can do things called multiplexing, whereby you can layer multiple sets of information in one space. That’s really kind of the superpower of what we’re doing. And we believe we can put more information in less space than ever before,” he says.

HoloMem’s polymer blocks can handle extreme temperatures, without the data becoming corrupted - between -14C to 160C.

By comparison, magnetic tape needs to be kept between 16C and 25C, which means significant heating and cooling costs, particularly in countries with extreme temperatures.

Tape also needs replacing after around 15 years, whereas the polymer is good for at least 50 years.

  • averyminya@beehaw.org
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    1 month ago

    I really do wonder why it’s taking so long for stone-striation storage to be a thing. We have proof that data will surpass 150m years through fossils, so why the heck did we think that flash storage was a good idea!

    • flora_explora@beehaw.org
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      1 month ago

      Hm, on the one hand this could be survivorship bias, i.e. only a lucky few scripts in stone have made it through. If you left enough of these glass discs or other modern media in very specific conditions they might also withstand thousands/millions of years maybe?

      On the other hand, I think the amount of data and the corresponding resolution is important, too. If you’d try to store petabytes (or more) worth of data you’d have to carve really really tiny scriptures into stone unless you want mountains of stones just to save some bits of data. But the moment you scale your resolution up and your data engraving gets much smaller, you’ll also get a much more error prone, susceptible system. So even stones with tiny scriptures would certainly not be able to survive millions of years (at least the vast majority of them).

      • averyminya@beehaw.org
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        1 month ago

        This is true for stone and fossils, would this also be the case for crystal? I’m under the impression that their chain is pretty much set in stone (pun not intended), to the point where longevity would mostly be risked by cracking damage. Similar to how we see the striations of lightning strikes.

        Could also definitely be survivorship though!

  • lost_faith
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    1 month ago

    Didn’t someone attempt to increase the storage of CDs by a similar multi layer tactic, tho not as dense, using different colour lasers to etch each layer? iirc it was just before or just as dvds came out