Early research has had DNA making circuits and little factories. We haven't really seen DNA used as a storage medium, however, and it's evident we've been missing out. A Harvard team led by George Church, Sriram Kosuri and Yuan Gao can stuff 96 bits into a DNA strand by treating each base (A, C, G, T) as though it's a binary value. The genetic sequence is then synthesized by a microfluidic chip that matches up that sequence with its position in a relevant data set, even when all the DNA strands are out of order. The technique doesn't sound like much on its own, but the microscopic size amounts to a gigantic amount of information at a scale we can see: about 704TB of data fits into a cubic millimeter, or more than you'd get out of a few hundred hard drives. Caveats? The processing time is currently too slow for time-sensitive content, and cells with living DNA would destroy the strands too quickly to make them viable for anything more than just transfers. All the same, such density and a lifespan of eons could have us turning to DNA storage not just for personal backups, but for backing up humanity's collective knowledge. We're less ambitious -- we'd most like to know if we'll be buying organic hard drives alongside the fair trade coffee and locally-sourced fruit.
Harvard stores 704TB in a gram of DNA, may have us shopping for organically-grown storage (video)
In this article: deoxyribonucleic acid, DeoxyribonucleicAcid, dna, dna strand, DnaStrand, genetic, genetics, harvard, harvard university, HarvardUniversity, microfluidic, microfluidic chip, MicrofluidicChip, microfluidics, minipost, organic, research, science, sequencing, storage, strand, strands, wyss institute, WyssInstitute
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.