For decades, we relied on mechanical systems such as floppy disks and traditional hard drives, revolutionary media in their time but with evident challenges due to their degradation over time. However, current solutions are about to experience a radical change thanks to Microsoft, one of the leading technology companies.
Since 2016, Microsoft has been working on “Project Silica,” an ambitious project that aims to harness the potential of quartz crystals as a storage medium. By improving a laser writing system, the company has developed a method that allows storing several terabytes of data directly on these crystals. Currently, they have managed to store an impressive 7 TB on a single crystal surface, equivalent to about 3,500 movies or 1.75 million songs.
The process involves an ultra-fast laser, known as a femtosecond laser, that writes the information into the crystal. Subsequently, a specialized microscopic system takes care of reading it, while another computer system deciphers the data. Once stored, the crystal modules are kept in a special library, and when it’s necessary to access them, an advanced robotic system retrieves and takes them to the electronic reading system.
Beyond storage capacity, one of the main advantages of this innovative technology is its unprecedented durability. While traditional media tend to deteriorate, data stored in quartz crystals can remain intact for over 10,000 years, offering an ideal solution for companies and entities that manage large volumes of data and seek high levels of security. The company promises not only to improve storage capacity but also to change the way we preserve and access critical information in the digital age.