Could the key to unlimited storage be found in our very own DNA?
Despite decades of research, Deoxyribonucleic Acid, better known as DNA, is still considered to be one of the most complex structures in existence. Naturally, scientists have been working hard to fully harness the unique powers of DNA.
One potential use of DNA is its potential to store digital data. Because of its extremely dense structure, stability and survivability, DNA is an ideal candidate for massive data storage. While many extreme storage mediums need to be kept in strict temperature environments, DNA is able to survive for thousands of years at room temperature.
Taking full advantage of its properties, Harvard researchers George Church and Sri Kosuri have successfully stored 700 terabytes of data into a single gram of DNA.
Surprisingly, the process was somewhat similar to traditional storage devices. While standard digital storage devices encode fragments of binary data onto hard drive platters, the DNA storage process synthesizes strands and encodes binary values onto each of its four DNA bases (TGAC). To read the stored data, all you would have to do is sequence the unique strands of DNA - in a similar fashion as sequencing the human genome.
While this method may be capable of storing staggering amounts of data, synthesizing and sequencing DNA is no simple task. While modern lab equipment has certainly evolved over the years, DNA reading and writing would be a costly and lengthy process. Although this suggests DNA should be used for archival purposes, who knows what the future holds.