Science

DNA Storage Now Possible; Save Videos, Images And Data In Your Genes

By Rodney Rafols , Aug 27, 2016 03:30 AM EDT
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DNA holds the genetic codes of each person. It's known to have a large capacity in such a small space. Now though, researchers are looking at the possibility of DNA being used to store data as well. This possibility may someday revolutionize computer technology towards even smaller storage devices that can hold millions of data.

Research is being done by the University of Washington and Microsoft to see if DNA might be viable as storage for data. This research actually started years ago. Today it is being handled by Luis Ceze, a computer architect at the University of Washington,according to Science News for Students. He is part of a team which includes people from Microsoft. Key to this research is making synthetic DNA from which combinations can be developed.

DNA has much promise since even a something as large as a sugar cube can hold information comparable to the size of a large supermarket. That would be big and could even be far more capable than most large-capacity drives out there today.

The research on DNA as a possible data storage has been presented at the ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems last April 6. In its presentation, the team has outlined one of the breakthroughs it has made wherein four image file digital data have been successfully encoded into synthetic DNA.

Digital Trends in its update reports that since then, a high definition music video, 100 books and a seed database have been encoded into synthetic DNA as well. In all, that's about 200 megabytes worth of data, up from the previous 22 megabytes that have been stored.

To encode the data, the team used a method that is very accurate. This method has been successful since they were able to encode data without losing any information. In order to copy data, a process using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is done. By heating and cooling PCR, copies of DNA are then made. This process could also be used in order to extract data as well as reconstruct data files.

This method is hoped to be improved even further. One hurdle that the team is facing though is that the cost of DNA synthesis is expensive. However, the team hopes that there would be much interest in the research that they could be able to continue it. DNA-based storage looks to be promising, and could very well change computer technology in the future.

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