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Million-Year Storage Solution Is Set in Stone

uncut yellow sapphire

An uncut yellow sapphire.

Credit: Wikipedia

Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA presented a sapphire storage data solution during the recent Euroscience Open Forum. Platinum could be used to engrave information on a sapphire hard disk that has the potential to last 1 million years.

Researchers molecularly fused two thin disks of industrial sapphire with a thin layer of inscribed platinum, then immersed the disks in acid to test their durability and to simulate aging. Up to 40,000 miniaturized pages of text or images etched can be inscribed in the platinum, and the information would be read with a microscope.

The solution could be used to document the location of buried nuclear waste to warn future archaeologists of areas they should not dig. With a sapphire disk, the warning message could be encoded into various forms of written human communication, including words, pictograms, and diagrams.

The technology also could serve as a Rosetta Stone for preserving the wealth of knowledge accumulated by humans. The sapphire storage disk costs $30,000 to make.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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