Last year, Hitachi (TYO: 6501) demonstrated how its ultra-resistant and ultra-long lasting quartz glass data storage technology could be designed as a replacement for the DVD. Today, with the cooperation of Kyoto University, the company has once again made it past its own milestone, with the development of a 100-layer medium using the same technology.
Quartz glass data storage is one of the currently known breakthrough tech concepts predicted to (at least in theory) eventually supersede traditional data storage media. With an estimated functional longevity of about millions of years, a quartz glass data storage medium can vastly outlast any device or gadget today (which only follows a regular development cycle of about a few years or decades).
The current breakthrough details the achievement of successfully writing data and reading the exact same data with no errors using the mentioned 100-layer design. The development team was able to achieve this by using a custom optical microscope that is equipped with Cs corrector lens. By constantly adjusting the reading laser as it goes layer by layer, they were able to prevent data ‘spot’ distortion, and it provided a way to reach deeper layers without the need to increase the laser’s intensity. The entire medium is only about 60 micrometers in length, divided into two with 50 layers each. The data density of the medium is equivalent to about 1.5 GB per inch, or about the same as a standard blu-ray disc.
Adding data layers to the quartz glass material is challenging, due to the fact that reading and writing data on it becomes increasingly difficult and risky as more layers are added. Noise, or data impurity is one factor, but reading errors also increase as the intensified laser distorts the data ‘spots’ at the upper layers of the medium.
Hitachi first announced the quartz glass concept way back in 2012, when the company first introduced the technology as a way to preserve data for a very long time. It was estimated back then that with sufficient development, commercial distribution of the technology could be feasible by the year 2015. With its achievement last year, and its latest achievement today, we can now see this prediction as more or less accurate, although it’s still quite a bit early to expect quartz glass compact discs and SD cards soon.