A new kind of polymeric “DNA” assembly will give people the tiniest data storage in the world

ITJune 18, 2015
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Researchers from Charles Sedron’s Institute and Aix-Marseille Universite in France, developed a new technology of recording binary data in the form of sequence of a synthetic polymer chain, the thickness of which is approximately in 60 thousand times smaller than thickness of a human hair. This technology has a huge potential in the near future to become storage of figures which has not only the smallest sizes today and the greatest value of information storage density indicator, but also possesses some other quite attractive parameters.

Now the storage of one zettabyte (1 billion terabyte) requires about one thousand kilograms of a cobalt alloy, the material used in the plates of modern hard drives. Zetabayt information, written down in the form of sequence of a DNA molecule chain, about 10 grams of this material will demand everything.

The process of synthesis of DNA sequence is very similar to the threading of pearls on a thread. And in the simplest case, information is coded in the form of traditional zero and units. To each of the values it corresponds a certain sequence of the chemical components called monomers which by means of chemical methods are linked in a certain order in one chain. And by means of a rather usual mass spectrometer, the device used for reading DNA sequences, information which is written down in it can be read out with the high level of reliability.

We have already mentioned that George Church, professor of genetics from Weis’s Institute of the University of Harvard, by means of a method of DNA synthesis created 70 million copies of its book on genetics which were located in a tiny drop of liquid. The French researchers managed to code about 10 megabytes of information in the form of sequence of the bases of a polymer molecule, and in the future, information amount can be increased by some orders. Synthetic polymeric molecules, under certain conditions can be stored unchanged for at least 100 thousand years, and such storages are more reliable ways of storing information, than any existing technologies, including optical and hard drives.

But the biggest obstacle which does not allow in practice to use DNA for information storage, is time. DNA synthesis in which the above-mentioned 10 megabytes of information were coded, required some days, and interpretation (reading) of these data is made within eight hours. However, considering the progress in this direction, it is possible to count that essential breaks can happen in the next two-three years when the DNA data recording will become possible.

“Pure DNA is really a biological object created by the nature. However, not in all cases DNA is ideally suited for its use in nanotechnologies and other areas. These areas require something absolutely different” – researchers write, – “Our idea is that by means of chemical methods we can synthesize long polymeric molecules with the set structure, and a process of their synthesis can be much cheaper and quicker than the process of artificial DNA synthesis “.

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