DNA Can Store 700 Terabytes of Information In A Single Gram and Scientists Have Done It
DNA is able to store an incredible amount of information. In fact, a bioengineer and geneticist, from Harvard’s Wyss Institute, was able to pack in 5.5 petabits of data, or around 700 terabytes. To be fair, scientists were already able to write down information on DNA, but this time, however, they’ve managed to do it one thousand times better.
George Church and Sri Kosuri were, in a sense, treated the genetic material just like any other digital storage device. But instead of using binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a standard hard drive platter, they used the strands of DNA capable of storing 96 bits and then synthesised it so that each TGAC base to represent a value. So, T and G stand for 1, while A and C stand for 0.
And in order to read that data, one simply has to sequence it, just like sequencing the human genome and then translate the TGAC sequence into binary. In order to help with this sequencing, each DNA strand has a 19-bit address block, thus streamlining the whole procedure.
DNA has been seen by scientists as a great storage medium for a while now. For starters, it’s very dense, with one bit of information taking up just a few atoms worth of space. It is also incredibly stable and durable. Where other storage instruments require sub-zero vacuum conditions to withstand in time, DNA can easily be kept for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years in a box in room temperature.
Only with the state of the art technology that has been developed in recent years, was this achievable. It took scientists years during the Human Genome Project to analyse a single human genome; something that it can be done in mere hours with the help of microfluidic chips. This new means of storing information on DNA isn’t particularly fast, per se, but it is an incredibly good way of storing and archiving information in safe conditions, indefinitely.