There are many traditional techniques that we are used to. For example, data storage on hard drives or fibre broadband, which most people use every month.
Is DNA like hard discs? A new writing method has been developed
Scientists have developed a way to use DNA as a hard disc. They can store and read information from deoxyribonucleic acid.
Experts predict that by 2025
63 exabytes of data a day, the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs. That’s a lot of data. But the current data storage system is not perfect, let alone sustainable. This is a serious problem, and it’s getting worse. Here’s an idea of how you can fix it.
An alternative to hard discs is DNA-based data storage. Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new method for storing information in DNA that takes just minutes instead of days (as it does now).
The world’s best and most sustainable data storage
Currently, storing digital information in DNA requires a complex process of combining new information with existing DNA sequences. To record the data correctly, the expression of some proteins needs to be changed, which can take 10-12 hours. But the process can be accelerated.
Researchers at Northwestern University have used a new method with a complicated name: patternless recording using local environmental signals Tdt, or KIJUD for short. Instead of copying existing DNA strands, they synthesised completely new DNA strands, making it possible to store data in minutes.
In the future, it is possible that information will not be stored on hard discs, but on DNA strands.
DNA as a hard disc
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is like a natural hard disc. It can store, copy and transfer large amounts of data. These properties have been exploited by researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Centre, who have developed special systems for storing information in DNA.
“We believe that DNA contains the highest known information density,” says Yaniv Erlich, co-author of the study. “Also, DNA does not degrade over time like CDs.
The researchers tested their method and were able to record, among other things, an operating system, a computer virus and an old Lumiere film. The files were compressed together. The recorded data was then read out. The film was shown and the operating system was run. The returned data contained no errors.
The researchers developed a storage system using the four nitrogen bases of DNA. The data was stored as zeros and ones. The digital information created in this way was sent to Twist Bioscience, which depended on the creation of a deoxyribonucleic acid containing the desired information. The conversion of digital information into biological information takes two weeks.
As Yaniv Erlich points out, deoxyribonucleic acid is a very stable medium. DNA allows us to read information about organisms thousands of years old.
The method of recording and reading DNA data is very expensive. Archiving just two megabytes costs about seven thousand dollars. It is a lot more than buying a hard disk drive but this is the beginning of technology. To read the data, you need to add another two thousand. But as technology improves, prices may come down. It looks like DNA could be the future of information storage.