Microsoft researchers used a laser to store 'Superman' on glass

  • Microsoft researchers successfully stored Warner Bros. “Superman” on a piece of quartz glass the size of a coaster.
  • The feat was proof of concept for a years-long effort to store data in glass, and used a combination of laser optics and artificial intelligence.
  • The glass is designed to last hundreds of years and can withstand being baked, microwaved, scoured, doused in water, demagnetized, and “other environmental threats.”
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Microsoft researchers have produced a piece of glass that is 7.5 centimeters long, 2 millimeters thick, and contains the entire 1978 film “Superman.”

The feat is the culmination of years of research, Microsoft announced Monday, and was made possible by recent advances in ultra-fast laser optics and artificial intelligence.

Researchers used lasers to carve tiny, three-dimensional etchings into the glass’s surface, which can be read by specially trained machine learning algorithms that look at the patterns created when a light is shined through the glass.

The research builds on concurrent Microsoft projects that aim to store data more efficiently in the long term. A concurrent project is centered on an invention dubbed the Pelican, which uses cold storage to preserve dozens of disk drives, The Register reported.

Microsoft isn’t the only company exploring cutting-edge long-term storage tech. Millenniata, a startup founded in 2009, developed ultra-durable DVDs that it says will be readable for 1,000 years.

Lab photos show the meticulous process behind the Microsoft’s most recent accomplishment. Take a look:

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