Geneticists can store data in synthetic DNA as a medium for long-term storage due to its density, ease of copy, longevity and sustainability. Research in the field had recently advanced with new encoding algorithms, automation, preservation and sequencing. Nevertheless, the most challenging hurdle in DNA storage deployment remains the write throughput, which can limit the data storage capacity. In a new report, Bichlien H. Nguyen, and a team of scientists in Microsoft Research and computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, U.S., developed the first nanoscale DNA storage writer. The team intended to scale the DNA write density to 25 x 106 sequences per square centimeter, an improved storage capacity compared to existing DNA synthesis arrays. The scientists successfully wrote and decoded a message in DNA to establish a practical DNA data storage system. The results are now published in Science Advances.
The current pace of data generation exceeds existing storage capacities, DNA is a promising solution to this problem at an expected practical density of more than 60 petabytes per cubic centimeter. The material is durable under a range of conditions, relevant and easy to copy, with promise to be more sustainable or greener than commercial media. During the process, digital data in the form of sequences of bits can be encoded in sequences of the four natural DNA bases—guanine, adenine, thiamine and cytosine, although additional bases are also possible. The team can next write the sequences into molecular form via de novo DNA oligonucleotide synthesis to create specific molecules based on a set of repeating chemical steps. The resulting oligonucleotides can be preserved and stored after synthesis. To access the data, the DNA storage can be amplified using polymerase chain reactions and sequenced to return the DNA base sequences to the digital domain, then the DNA base sequences can be decoded to recover the original sequence of bits.
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