Nanotechnology has taken up a lot of applications in recent years. 

Using nanostructured glass, researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (OCR) at the University of Southhampton (UK) demonstrated a technique where digital data can be stored for practically billions of years.

The method is based on femtosecond laser writing in a transparent material (in this case glass), where one creates birefringend regions, writing them in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometers.

The method is called five dimensional digital data storage, including the three spatial dimensions of the position of the nanoparticles, the birefringence’s slow axis (4th dimension) and the strength of the retardance (5th dimension).

The self-assembled nanostructures change thereby the way light is passing through the glass, changing thereby its polarization, which can easily be analyzed (read) by a combination of microscope and polarizer.

The material being very stable itself up to 1000 °C allows the data to be stored virtually unlimited under normal conditions (at least 13 billion years) with a theoretical capacity of 360 TB/disc.

It allows therefore the storage of big data volumes and thus is a possibility to storage the heritage of mankind for the future, thus a modern version of the library of Alexandria in ancient times.