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DNA Data Storage

August 21, 2015

Is DNA the answer to our data storage limitations?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Replacing hard drives with DNA. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The DNA in a single cell in our bodies stores the entire blueprint for a human, and a small vial of the stuff can hold the equivalent of twenty-thousand US Libraries of Congress.  At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, chemical engineer Robert Grass from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology described his team’s efforts at using DNA to store digital data.

ROBERT GRASS (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich):

We looked for chemical ways of improving the stability of the DNA molecule, without changing it, naturally, because otherwise it would lose all the advantages.

HIRSHON:

He and his colleagues settled on a technique that seals the DNA in a glass matrix. They then subjected it to harsh conditions, carefully dissolved the glass to release the DNA, and then successfully read the original data. He says DNA could eventually be answer to storing today’s vast pipeline of data with some degree of permanence.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.