Jun 8, 2023

DNA Microcapsules Deliver Retrievable Data Storage

NOTE: This article refers to synthetic DNA, not human DNA.

Humans are generating increasing amounts of data, yet the ability to store all of this information is lagging behind. Since traditional long-term storage media such as hard discs or magnetic tape are limited in terms of their storage density, researchers are looking into small organic molecules and, more recently, DNA as molecular data carriers.

A new technique dubbed “thermoconfined PCR” could be used to store data in synthetic DNA, say researchers at TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The technique, which involves localizing functionalized oligonucleotides inside thermoresponsive, semipermeable microcapsules, outperforms current DNA storage methods and provides a new approach for repeated random access to archived DNA files.

The advantages of DNA

DNA has many advantages when it comes to storing data. For one, the same amount of information may be stored in a much smaller physical volume than is possible with conventional technologies. DNA is also very stable and is thus suitable for long-term archiving. Using DNA to store data is also intuitive, since its main function in nature is to store the genetic information for all living organisms.

DNA strands are polynucleotides that combine four different nucleobases – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). It is the sequence of these bases that determines the information stored. Rather than being stored as zeros and ones, data will be encoded in the AT and CG base pairs that make up DNA. The current best method can achieve a storage density of 17 exabytes per gram, a value that is six orders of magnitude higher than achievable with current non-DNA storage devices.

You can read more in an article by Isabelle Dumé published in the physicsworld web site at: