Storing data in a DNA strand

— Mar 14, 2017

Storing data in a DNA strand

With the growth of the mobile internet, connected objects and the quantify environment, current data production is exponential.

Looking for new storage technologies

In 2011, research workers at the University of South Carolina calculated that the planet produced a zettabyte of data (one thousand billion billion characters) in 2010.

According to their forecast, we will create between 300 and 700,000 ZB in 2040. The volume of data created each second is estimated at 29,000 GB. The challenge is not only transmitting this data, but storing it.

And what is the goal of current research? Technology that will allow long-term storage of a maximum of information on smaller and smaller media requiring a minimum of energy.

Many possibilities are currently being studied, such as the use of artificial diamonds as a storage area, but the most surprising media is the DNA molecule.

Synthetic DNA: a promising storage area

An immense reservoir of genetic information, DNA has for several years been a source of inspiration for storage technology scientists. In 2012, a team at Harvard succeeded in transcribing the contents of an entire book representing 658 KB in a fragment of synthetic DNA.

Last year, Microsoft and the University of Washington managed to store 200 MB. The volume of transcribed information has thus been multiplied by 300 in four years. These volumes may seem modest, but a cubic millimeter of DNA is estimated to have a storage capacity of one billion gigabytes!

This month, research workers at Columbia and the New York Genome Center published the details of a new experiment in the magazine Science. Inside a synthetic DNA molecule, they were able to store an operating system, a computer virus and a 50-second film: the arrival of a train at the Ciotat station by the Lumière brothers. They did this without altering the data when it was translated into binary language.

A terabyte hard disk weights at least 150 g, but with this compression technique, one gram of DNA could store up to 215,000 times as much data. DNA would allow keeping data without alteration over a much longer period than on traditional media, from hundreds to thousands of years.

We like: the search for new storage media that is longer-lasting and consumes less energy.
We were inspired by: this technology, which, when combined with new biomaterials, could give rise to a new generation of connected, living objects.

#innovation #information #sustainable


The founders