Skip to main content

Books burn and discs die, but these etched sapphire ‘Nanoforms’ last forever

Storing data for a significant stretch of time is a trickier task than it might seem. Paper and film can last a few generations if they’re carefully preserved, but even under the best conditions they tend to fade after while. Digital media (CDs, flash drives, and external hard drives) have a 30-year life span at best — assuming they aren’t scratched, corrupted, demagnetized, or rendered obsolete by newer systems before then. And the cloud? That’ll only last for as long as we can keep our current Internet infrastructure intact, and that’s completely out of your hands.

What if you want to store something for a thousand, one hundred thousand, or even a million years? How would you preserve information for that long? The answer, according to French entrepreneurs Alain Rey & Farid Benzakour, is to etch your data into sapphire with a high-powered laser. Using this technique, the duo have created a unique analog storage device dubbed the “nanoform

Nanoforms are essentially a high-tech cross between stone tablets and microfilm slides. Instead of chiseling crude symbols into a hunk of rock, Rey and Benzakour use a sophisticated laser etching process to scrawl information into a disk of lab-grown sapphire — the second hardest material known to man. Using this method, they’re able to etch out shapes in incredibly fine detail — so small that they need to be magnified (like microfilm) in order to be read.

To give you an example of just how small they can go, Rey and Benzakour printed the book War and Peace –in its entirety– on a 4-inch demo disk, and the whole thing took up less than a quarter of the disk’s area. On top of that, the technique isn’t limited to just text. The laser can etch out practically any shape you want, so pictures aren’t out of question either — so long as they’re black and white.

Fahrenheit2451

The beauty of this approach is that, in addition to resisting water, fire, acid, and corrosion, the disks are completely analog. You don’t need a computer to read them, the information can’t be hacked, and the etched images can be viewed with just about any kind of magnification device — a camera with a macro lens, a microscope, a pair of binoculars, or even just a big magnifying glass.

Rey and Benzakour have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for production. For a pledge of about $150, they’ll send you a 1-inch nanoform engraved with whatever the heck you want. If all goes according to plan, they expect to begin shipping sometime around November.

Drew Prindle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more