We have not just stepped but stormed into the digital world. Every type of information in our world is ultimately being stored in the form of digital data. You can think about images, e-books, statistics, videos and everything else around us. Thus, there is every possibility that we will soon start running out of storage space. The hard-drives will not be enough to store the data. Scientists and researchers seem to have found the solution in the form of DNA. A group of researchers including Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski have successfully tested DNA as a storage medium for digital data.
The things that make DNA so special are that it is ultra compact and more durable than CDs and cassettes. They stored an operating system, six files, an 1895 French film, a computer virus, an Amazon gift card, a study by information theorist Claude and a Pioneer plaque into 72,000 strands of DNA. When the data was retrieved using sequencing technology and translated back into binary form, no errors were reported. Yaniv Erlich revealed some interesting facts and information about what could be a revolutionary technology.
DNA is all set to replace your digital hard-drives as a storage media
Motivation behind the research
The rate at which the world is producing data is increasing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the data storage technology has not managed to grow at the same rate. This encouraged us to look for some innovative and better means for storing digital data.
The efforts and the study behind the research
We have managed to not only store data on DNA strands but achieve ‘optical packing’. This means that we have achieved the limit to maximum data that can be stored on a DNA strand. We successfully tested our research by storing various types of digital data including an operating system on DNA.
How does the technology works?
We started by mapping the binary digital information to DNA nucleotides. These molecules containing the nucleotides were stored in a test-tube. The information was retrieved by sequencing the molecules. We used a special strategy known as ‘DNA Fountain’ to pack the information. This is what helped us to achieve optimal packing.
The reason for choosing DNA
There are many factors that encouraged us to choose DNA. The two main factors were its high packaging density and durability. There are 215 Petabytes found in each gram of DNA. This means that you can store a larger amount of data in much smaller size. Since DNA do not degrade easily, they can store the data safely for more than 100 years.
When will the technology be available for general usage to everyone?
The research is still in its early days and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. It will probably take more than a decade before technology will be available for public usage. It may seem a long time but you must remember that even magnetic media did not evolve in a day.
Other applications of the Technology
This technology is a part of molecular biology. DNA can be easily manipulated using molecular biology to assist computing.