DNA Data Storage
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DNA data storage is the process of encoding and decoding binary data to and from synthesized strands of DNA to use it as a storage medium. Compared to conventional optical and magnetic storage media like flash drives and hard drives, this solution offers much larger data density and potentially more longevity and energy efficiency to meet the growing global demand for digital storage.
The extensive amount of information stored in tiny volumes drastically reduces the space needed and, therefore, the energy required to hold it. For instance, for 33 zettabytes, the estimated amount of data that humanity will generate by 2025, less than the area of a ping-pong ball would be necessary.
DNA storage involves three processes: coding the data, synthesizing and storing it, and decoding it. First, the data is coded by algorithms, translating binary codes into DNA codes: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). Then, the DNA is deposited in a container in a cool and regulated environment; it can be frozen in a solution, stored as droplets, or on silicon chips. Finally, data stored in DNA is taken to a lab to be decoded into error-free binary information.
Due to the speed of the decoding process, this technology is primarily envisioned for storing data that does not need to be frequently accessed, such as in today's external hard drives and long-term archives. However, with future developments, it could be used for data storage with always-on availability, helping reduce the dependence on today's energy-consuming server farms.