The day may come when using DNA instead of hard drives to store data, how is that possible

Scientists say they have taken a step forward in trying to store information in the form of DNA molecules. They expect DNA to be more robust and long lasting than any other means of storing information.

Magnetic hard drives are now being used to store and store computer data. But such drives take up a lot of space. And over time, that is likely to change.

DNA is the natural medium for storing signals of life. Using it, it is possible to collect a lot of valuable data that we have.

According to scientists, doing so could preserve data for thousands of years.

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A group of scientists in Atlanta, USA, have claimed that they have developed a chip that can improve the existing capacity of DNA to store information 100 times.

“The density of the features in our chip is [almost] 100 times higher than the device currently available on the market,” Nicholas Gaius, a senior scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), told the BBC.

He said that the technology used to store DNA data is expected to be 100 times improved after all the electronic devices of the control system are connected. According to him, the work is planned to be done in this program next year.

How is data stored?
In this method, DNA strands are formed by forming one basic element at a time. The basic element of DNA is called ‘base’ and the combination of four different such chemical elements makes a molecule of DNA.

DNA chip
Photo source, SEAN MCNEIL
Image caption,
Microchips will be used to make multiple strands of DNA at once

Bases are sometimes called ‘DNA strands’. Using it, information can be secretly encrypted.

This method is similar to conventional computing data collection using zero 0 and a 1 (binary code).

There are various possible ways to store information in DNA. For example, in binary code, adenine or cytosine may represent zero, and guanine or thymine may represent one. Or one and zero can be represented as two of the four bases.

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According to the scientists, if it could be kept as DNA, each film made so far could be stored in a space smaller than the volume occupied by a four-piece piece of sugar.

Depending on how intensive and reliable such storage is, DNA can be a new medium for long-term data collection and archiving.

The small segment used to grow DNA on a chip is called a microwave. Microwaves are less than the thickness of paper, a few hundred nanometers deep.

The current prototype microchip is about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) square. It has many microwaves. In these microwaves, different strands of DNA can be created in parallel. It can make a large amount of DNA in a short time.

Starting video caption,
DNA for digital data storage?

How effective?
As it is a prototype, not all microwaves are connected to electronic devices. This means that the amount of DNA data that can now be transcribed using this chip is less than that of leading companies using commercial chips.

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So Dr. According to Guys, the situation will change after everything is settled. Running a single synthesis for about 24 hours, DNA digital data storage has so far been able to hold a maximum of 200 megabytes. But with the new method, 100 times more DNA data can be stored in the same time.

Due to the high cost of DNA storage, this method is now limited to specific customers.

The GTRI team expects their work to reduce costs. He has partnered with two California-based biotech companies – Twist Biosciences and Roswell Biotechnologies – to make the method commercially viable.

GTRI’s Nicholas Guys tests electrical equipment connected to a microchip
Photo source, SEAN MCNEIL
Image caption,
GTRI’s Nicholas Guys tests electrical equipment connected to a microchip

Who is suitable?
Servers used to collect information needed quickly and frequently will not be immediately displaced due to DNA data storage.

This method will be used to store information that needs to be stored for a long time but only occasionally as it takes time to read the information stored in the DNA.

Such data is now stored on magnetic tape and must be changed every 10 years.

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Dr. According to Guys, maintaining a low temperature can preserve DNA data for thousands of years and reduce costs.

“Writing DNA at the beginning and then reading it at the end will cost a lot. If we can make the cost of this method competitive with the work of drawing magnetic data, the cost of storing data in DNA for a long time will be less.”

The rate of error is higher when storing data in DNA than in traditional hard drive storage.

But with the University of Washington In collaboration with GTRI researchers, they have found ways to detect and correct such errors.

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