posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 05:10 AM
This is probably the future of data back up, at least for companies and administrations at first, with no storage precautions needed at all....
Translation from the
by myself, please be indulgent as there's still probably some spelling mistakes!
Secure data for 2,000 years on a permanent medium that does not require conservation effort, it is possible: a young French company, Arnano, proposes
to burn a disc of sapphire, in analog form and without coding. Certainly, future generations will be able to read them.
The documents are written in images within a disc of synthetic sapphire. To read them, just a microscope is needed.
What will become store data on CD, DVD, hard drives, memory cards or USB keys? They will disappear sooner or later, it is a certainty. The problem
has long been known, leading to distinguish storage, short-term recording, archiving, to keep permanently valuable data. When it comes to keep records
over long periods, for regulatory reasons, for example, as is the case in aviation or in hazardous industries, including nuclear.
Our ancestors used the paper or parchment, and even further away from us yet, etching and painting on the rock. Today, the classical solution is the
microfiche or microfilm, that consist of photographing the document. An analogic principle, therefore. Digital seems to run out for the long term
"Digital technology is wonderful but is not secure," concludes Alain Rey, one of the founders of the company Arnano, spin-off from CEA-Leti. His
company has made as an original specialty using a laser to burn holographic and microscopic patterns, to the micrometer scale, on hard surfaces, like
glass or sapphire. The company works especially for the watch industry to include authentication codes, such as invisible logos to the naked eye. The
principle of laser burning eliminates masks in microelectronics, very expensive and that are reserved for mass production.
This storage disc is burned in a similar way. A synthetic sapphire surface (transparent), 0.7 mm thick, is coated with titanium nitride, "which
serves as ink," says Alain Rey, and the laser is used to draw the patterns. Then a second disc of sapphire is applied over. After heating, there
is a kind of molecular bonding and the two plates are fused together, linked in the same crystal lattice. "Sapphire is just a little less hard than
diamond. It is solid, it resists all chemicals and holds heat up to 1,700 ° C."
He added that the disc don't fear rodents, unlike microfiches.
It is a laser that burns a synthetic sapphire disc, an aluminum oxide (Al2O3). The natural mineral is bluish due to impurities but the
synthetic sapphire is transparent. The disc is covered with titanium nitride and the laser write, literally on this "ink". A second disc, perfectly
smooth, is applied thereto, and, under the effect of heat, merges with the first. The engraving is then unalterable. The realization of a glass disc,
less expensive, following the same steps
The final shape is a disc, but it is not a DVD. The circular shape with a diameter of 200 mm, is just the initial form of synthetic sapphire
ingots but also that of microelectronics machine tools, adapted to silicon wafers. Needless to slip it into a DVD reader!
For coding, it is the analog that was chosen. Digital technology suffers of three digital obsolescence:
- The media first. CDs and DVDs are short-lived means, 3 to 10 years.
- The tapes, 30 years.
- The software then. A text written in Word 1 will be hard to be read for our nowadays softwares, for example.
Similarly, CD and DVD encoding, very efficient, use complex algorithms, which can correct errors. But all of this is based on proprietary techniques,
which change over time. As back up material, we use the sapphire, which is unalterable. For the recording, we use the analog documents that are
images, just reduced in size. There is no coding. To read them, just need to enlarge them! Whatever the technique they will use, our descendants will
be able to do so.
For now, the reading can be done with a small microscope that plugs into a computer, with a high resolution camera equipped with a zoom or with a
special scanner that will provide files, text or images.
Ok, you'll say then "that's a great technology, but what about the cost?"
In all, a 200 mm diameter disc can store up to 10,000 A4 pages. This custom work is charged 3,000 euros on glass and on sapphire 10,000,
respectively 30 cents and 1 euro / page. But for that price, the disc will not need to be kept under special conditions. It may be dropped almost
anywhere ... Andra, National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management, has already placed an order for an archive of sapphire.
The archiving beyond 30 years is not taken into account. But companies have recognized this need. Ferrari, for example, that attaches great importance
to the conservation of all that relates to its older models. "That's right, our company produces a lot of information, more than ever in the
history of mankind. But how many of them pass through the centuries?"
edit on 28-6-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)