Just think about it for a moment: One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos. Today, we wouldn’t dream of blanketing every square meter of Earth with cameras, and recording every moment for all eternity/human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything (hello, police state!) https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134672-harvard-cracks-dna-storage-crams-700-terabytes-of-data-into-a-single-gram
o read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses.
Scientists have been eyeing up DNA as a potential storage medium for a long time, for three very good reasons: It’s incredibly dense (you can store one bit per base, and a base is only a few atoms large); it’s volumetric (beaker) rather than planar (hard disk); and it’s incredibly stable — where other bleeding-edge storage mediums need to be kept in sub-zero vacuums, DNA can survive for hundreds of thousands of years in a box in your garage.
A crack team of nanoengineers and biologists have created a non-volatile memory device out of salmon DNA and silver nanoparticles.
The memory is write-once-read-many (WORM), just like an optical disc. Basically, the researchers created a thin polymer film containing salmon DNA and silver nanoparticles. The DNA molecules are arranged in a regular pattern. By shining UV light on the biopolymer, the silver nanoparticles cluster around the DNA. This process seems to be permanent and irreversible, and according to the researchers the data is stored indefinitely.
To read the data, the biopolymer is sandwiched between two electrodes and the DNA-silver bits are read by passing a voltage through them. The “read” voltage is just 2.6V, which is comparable to existing DRAM and flash memory.
The concept of using DNA as the basis for a computer device might seem odd, but it’s actually a sphere of nanoengineering that has been steadily developing since IBM published a paper detailing its use of DNA “scaffolds” to lay out a computer chip, instead of lithography. DNA readily bonds with metal ions, and it seems to be relatively easy to accurately place DNA molecules on a substrate.
With regards to the salmon-based WORM memory, the researchers say that this technique could eventually be used to create optical storage devices. Because electricity is used to read the data instead of a laser, though, we are probably looking at optical chips with built in circuitry, rather than discs. The fact that data is written using UV light means that there could be a plasmonic application for the biopolymer, too.