DNA the Storage medium of future
Huge amount of Digital data is being generated every day on this Planet. Be it through social behavior like taking selfie’s or industry 4.0 that focuses on Industrial Internet of Things where digital devices embedded with sensors could talk to each other. At this rate of generation, humanity would soon be out of tapes & disks to store all the digital data. The answer to this digital problem could be found in Biology, as huge amount of digital data can be encoded in DNA to enable high volume & density of data storage.
The advantages are storage of large amounts in very small space, long lasting and retrievable as long as means are available to retrieve data from DNA. A single gram of DNA could potentially save up to 215 petabytes of digital data. It means all the data that has ever been produced so far could be recorded in a space of around few hundred square feet.
The digital data in computers and other digital devices is mostly stored in the formats of ones & zeros (combination of Binary) while the DNA has four nucleotides - A (adenine), G(guanine), C(cytosine) & T(thymine). Using a combination of these 4 base DNA formats, the digital data can be encoded in artificial DNAs.
The technology makes use of artificial DNA produced using oligonucleotide synthesis machines for STORAGE and RETRIEVAL is done by utilizing DNA sequencing machines. Challenges remain in retrieval of small amounts of data, so as to avoid the need to sequence whole strand of synthetic DNA in order to retrieve only one of the previously encoded data sets. Also another factor is the high cost, with up to few thousand dollars to store a megabyte. But with improvements in DNA synthesis, the costs may come down for the encoding and retrieval methods. In the not so far future, this form of data storage may become commercially viable and find general acceptance due to its other major advantage of storing high density data in small space.