Need to store data for some time in the future? Researchers are not thinking about a decade, a century or even a millennium. A new disk actually can store data for at least a million years. That’s a long time.
Developed by Jeroen de Vries at the University of Twente in The Netherlands and his fellow researchers, the team tested the disk to demonstrate it can store data for 1 million years.
In order to prove their point, they accelerated the aging process. It was done by studying data storage, and how it is separated by an energy barrier. The relevant energy barrier is 63 KBT or 70 KBT.
“These values are well within the range of today’s technology,” de Vries was quoted by MIT Technology Review.
To test the theories, researchers heated the disks and then looked at what happened to the data. Based on a theory known as “Arrhenius law,” for a disk to last for a million years it would have to be able to be heated at 445 Kelvin for an hour. The new disks made it through that temperature. In fact, the new disks got through 848 Kelvin, though there was some loss of information at that high temperature.
The narrow, metal disks feature lines. The lines are 100nm in width. Also, the disks are made out of tungsten. Tungsten will not melt unless it is heated to 3,422 degrees C. The disks are also covered by a protective layer made out of silicon nitride (Si3N4). It is resistant to fractures.
But one reader of the article, calling himself, “UncleAl” points out that “Data must do more than persist. It must be readable and interpretable.” He cited such past examples as: 8-inch, 5.25-inch, 3.5-inch floppies; ZIP drives, audio tape backups; 8-track tapes, video disks; Betamax vs. VHS.
In fact, there are many potential factors that could destroy a disk -- beyond aging over a million years. But it is comforting to know that short of these, the disk should be able to survive well into the future.