Gallery: Hitachi Invents Waterproof Glass ‘Disk’ That Can Store Data Fo...


A simple square of glass may hold the key to the vexing problem of storing data indefinitely. Developed by Hitachi, the technology prints a binary series of dots upon a sliver of quartz glass which can then be easily read with a common microscope. It sounds simple enough, and that is exactly the point – the data can be easily accessed no matter what the future technologies of the digital age bring. Even better, the data is safe from fire, chemicals, and water – almost anything, except perhaps a hammer.

As the digital age has discarded physical forms of data storage in favor of more dense and delicate forms that require increasingly sophisticated equipment, it has left many institutions in a quandary. Media breaks down – and what happens when they archive information which they will not be able to retrieve in the future? After all blu-ray will become as popular as the 8-Track in a few decades.

The solution of printing binary code onto quartz glass is not too dissimilar to records. There may not be commercialized technology available to get the data, but the simplicity of the format makes creating a retrieval system very straightforward. Just as adding a needle to a spinning record will produce sound, placing the binary code into any computer with a simple program allows users access to the data — all you need is an optical microscope to get to the information.

The chip uses common quartz glass made for beakers and measures a scant 2 millimeters thick and 2 centimeters square. Four layers of dots are sandwiched together, resulting in a data density of 40 megabytes to the square inch, or enough to hold a CDs worth of information. The glass is stable under heat up to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit, and it resists most chemicals and water.

Hitachi plans to increase the amount of data that can be stored while maintaining the optical characteristics of the glass. Perhaps then disco really can live forever.

Via and Gizmodo


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  1. KLM January 2, 2015 at 3:20 am

    To me it is difficult to believe that the glass is eternal carrier of information. From physics we know that the glass is a liquid. Of course the speed of spreading hundreds and thousands of years, so it is not visible for a short period. Unfortunately primitive drawings on rocks have much lasting than anything invented until …

  2. stickershock July 19, 2014 at 7:52 am

    It’s Braille on glass !

  3. Jay Viradiya February 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

    hey its an extra-ordinary concept with great features invented by japan.Don’t need to have a portable hard drive or pen-drive or CD. now we can store our data and keep our data till the next decades.this chip is having great doesn’t break and no worry about data lost. I think the new era begins with this technology.

    you can also visit this website:

  4. Eletruk September 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    One of the things that needs to be included in “Forever” data is an instruction set. The Voyager laser disc has a set of pictograms included on it that describes how to read it. I think there should be an international standard set up so that every one of these data storage devices include the instructions to read it. Not just what the dots are, but more important, number systems used (like base 10 or binary or hexadecimal). Basic mathematics used, alphanumeric encoding (ASCII, or UNICODE), how are pictures stored (JPEG algorithms, etc). If compression is used, that needs the math included.
    I guess I am thinking of the issues we had in translating old papyrus that we had no clue until the Rosetta Stone was found. And that was only a thousand years or so that we had lost the ability to read the contents. If we truly want an archive that will survive eons, then every single one of these storage units needs to include this stuff. You never know which will survive, and we should take steps to insure that future generations can retrieve the contents, otherwise having truly permanent storage is pointless beyond 50 years or so.

  5. macmarty15221 September 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    They physical media is only half the battle. If someone gave you one of these glass squares with a VisiCalc spreadsheet (circa 1979) on it, would you be able to open and display it?

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