Superman memory crystalIn DC Comics, it has generally been portrayed that the Fortress of Solitude contains endless information on the lost society of Krypton. Each shard of crystal hold invaluable data. The crystal was created by Superman’s biological father, Jor-El, and sent to planet Earth with baby Kal-El inside the rocket ship from Krypton. The crystal forfeited the sterility of Kryptonian culture.

Researchers on planet Earth are creating something similar – 5D Memory Card, monikered the Superman Memory Crystal. The crystal can store nearly for 13.8 billion years in 5D and can withstand multimillennial star-bound spacecraft journeys.

Back in 2013, researchers at the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton (ORC) prototyped Superman memory crystal capable of storing 360 terabytes of data in 5D using femtosecond laser writing. Now, three years later, they have fully demonstrated the life-altering technology. The storage scheme based on monocle-sized quartz disc that stores 360 terabytes, virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature, thermal stability up to 1000º C and data retention over 13.8 billion years.


The quartz discs store their data as laser-etched nanostructured glass. The nanostructures change the polarization of light passing through it. These changes are read off by an automated microscope algorithm that translates polarization signals back into the stream of stored data.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights recorded into 5D optical data

Universal Declaration of Human Rights recorded into 5D optical data

The data can be stored with the help of an ultrafast laser that produces short and intense pulses of light. The document is crafted in three strata of nanostructural dots, each strata placed at a relative distance of five micrometers. The nanostructures modifies the polarization of light by changing the way light travels through the glass, enabling to read the data using a combination of a polarizer and an optical microscope. Such technique is commonly used in Polaroid sunglasses.

As a stable and portable form of memory, the technology could be highly useful for libraries such as the Vatican Library and the British Library, major documents in human history, such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Magna Carta, Newton’s Opticks, and King James Bible, alongside national archives.

Last year, during the International Year of Light (IYL) closing ceremony in Mexico, the ORC presented a copy of the UDHR encoded to 5D data storage to UNESCO.

“It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations,” Peter Kazansky, Professor at the ORC said in a statement. “This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten.”