British scientists say they have discovered a method for storing and retrieving huge amounts of digital data that could last for over a million years.
Using extremely short and intense pulses of laser light, researchers at the University of Southampton assembled structures in fused quartz glass that can withstand temperatures up to 1,000 degrees C.
The data, written in three layers of nanometer sized structured dots, can be read by an optical microscope with polarized lenses. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.
Scientists say the new method opens the possibility of creating memory discs with an unprecedented memory capacity of up to 360 terabytes, with an almost unlimited lifetime.
Present long-time digital storage capacity based on hard-drive memory storage has to be updated every five to 10 years.
The new technology offers the possibility of preserving data forever.
The discovery was presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, in San Jose, California.