Even if the storage density reaches a new height, many researchers still focus on the paradigm shift of high-density information storage: storing data in the four nucleotides (a, t, G and C) of DNA, this method is expected to achieve millions of efficiency, which is three times of the current data storage technology. Although DNA based data storage has been implemented many times, there are still many obstacles to transform it from proof of concept to scalable technology for production and routine use. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has overcome one of the obstacles, which is that even if the chain is damaged, it can improve the reliability of DNA data retrieval.
“We need a way to store data so that it can be made available in a readable format at the time and place it needs to be,” said Stephen Jones, a research scientist working on the project. “The idea takes advantage of what biology has been doing for billions of years: storing a lot of information in a small space that can last for a long time. DNA doesn’t take up too much space, it can be stored at room temperature, and it can last hundreds of thousands of years. “
However, DNA is prone to errors – DNA errors will change the entire sequence, which is much more destructive than the simple loss of data in traditional data storage media. This means that in the existing DNA data storage experiments, many copies of data will be stored so that retrieval programs can evaluate each other to find errors.
Ilya Finkelstein, an associate professor of molecular biology and one of the authors of the study, said: “the key breakthrough in this study is a coding algorithm that can accurately retrieve information even when the DNA strand is partially damaged during storage.”
“We’ve found a way to build information more like a grid,” Jones said “Each message enhances the others. In this way, it only needs to read once. ” In addition, they explained that their technology could help them prioritize certain information and avoid problematic or error prone parts of the DNA.
To test their storage methods, the researchers stored copies of the wizard of Oz (translated into Esperanto) and then exposed them to high temperatures and extreme humidity, destroying the DNA strand. Finally, they successfully and accurately retrieved the information.
“We try to solve as many problems as possible in the process at the same time,” said Hawkins, who recently worked at UT’s Auden School of Computational Engineering and science. “In the end, we made extraordinary achievements.”