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Chemistry Professor Helps Develop Next-Generation Data Disc

Matthew Linford, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was recently involved in the development of a next-generation disc capable of storing data for up to 1,000 years.

Teaming with BYU information technologies professor Barry Lunt, Linford lent his expertise in surface properties of materials to the project and helped develop an optical data disc with a much longer lifespan than previously thought possible.

Lunt, the project’s progenitor, realized during his seven years working with computer data for IBM that data stored on regular CDs and DVDs would be lost over the space of just a few years, due to disc erosion caused primarily by exposure to sunlight and humidity. After gaining inspiration from a series of 1,000-year-old petroglyphs he found in the rock face of Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon, Lunt recruited Linford to help him develop a stronger, more durable data storage unit.

After many months of slow progress and little funding for their research, Linford and Lunt decided to take a different approach.

“We worked on the project together for some time at BYU in our laboratories, although we never had a lot of money to pursue our goals, so at this point I mentioned to Barry the possibility of us starting a company as a way to obtain funding for our project,” Linford said in an e-mail. “We eventually got in touch with two businessmen, Henry O'Connell and Doug Hansen, with whom we started [a company].”

With O’Connell and Hansen on-board, the pair developed the Millennial Archival Disc – a backwards-compatible DVD that can be read by all standard drives, but also retains and protects stored information for up to 1,000 years. Linford used his knowledge of materials, continuously honed through his academic research, to help create the new disc from a combination of inorganic, incorruptible substances that can withstand the withering effects of heat and humidity.

The team’s company, named Millenniata (a combination of the words “millennium” and “data”), is currently marketing the new technology to businesses and other institutions and has garnered a significant amount of commercial interest from large organizations. For more information on this groundbreaking data storage alternative, visit their Web site at www.millenniata.com.

--by Steve Pierce, College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences

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