French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA is designing a an ultra-durable hard disk which they hope can reach a durability of 10 million years. The disk is made from two different disks (20cm across) of industrial-grade sapphire molecularly fused together, with platinum-based etchings to store information. Costing roughly $25,000 to make, the disk will contain 40,000 miniaturized pages readable via a simple microscope.
The data stored on the sapphire disk contains 40,000 miniaturized (not digital) pages, and the future archaeologists will just need a simple microscope to read them. ANDRA researchers tested the disk durability by immersing it in acid to simulate the ageing process: the “unit” should last 1 million year at least, the researchers stated, while they hope to prove a durability of 10 million years soon.
The sapphire hard disk is one of the solutions ANDRA and other European organizations dealing with nuclear waste are trying to develop to answer a very difficult question: how to inform the future generations about the proximity of a nuclear deposit and the right way to deal with the radioactive waste it contains?