DNA storage technology span the times

Since the binary has become a computer language, the development of human society has accelerated significantly, and 0 and 1 have changed the way humans live in countless circuits. The appearance of a computer is like a big bang in the information age, allowing humans to quickly process a large amount of data. Both daily life and scientific cutting-edge research have changed tremendously changes.

A large amount of data brings changes and tests. According to statistics, the total data of global data in 2021 reached 84.5ZB. (1ZB = 1021B) Such a huge amount of data not only puts forward high requirements for computing power but also puts forward extremely high requirements for the profile. To store such large data, the data also lives in a “building” like a data center. Before 2024, the number of large-scale data centers in the world may reach 1,000. More and more data centers are being built, but the land resources are limited. The “skyscraper” of the data center is a luxury. Therefore, increasing the density of data storage has become another solution.

To find more efficient storage carriers, the researchers targeted their attention to the carrier DNA of genetic information in nature. As a genetic term, the public is no stranger to DNA. During the genetic process, the DNA sequence stores genetic information, and then copy genetic information through the process of transcription and translation to maintain biological development and normal operation. Some researchers have speculated that aliens (or higher civilizations) store some information in the genome of the organisms, waiting for humans to decrypt it. This seeming speculation in science fiction is based on an important fact: DNA has conveyed important information in human evolution over thousands of years and is one of the densest and stable information media.

How can DNA storage technology be realized and what changes can it bring?


Is DNA storage reliable?

From a technical perspective, DNA storage has proven to be feasible.

The idea of storing information with DNA can be traced back to the period of molecular biology. Biochemist Frederick Sage invented the SANGER sequencing method for the DNA sequence to measure. From then on, humans can read nucleotide sequences codenamed A, T, C, and G, and arranged them. Since 0 and 1 can be computer languages, it is also possible to transmit specific information with DNA sequences. However, at that time, it took a 10-base DNA sequence to spend $ 6,000. Although the material performance was good, the price was too high.

With the development of new technologies in DNA synthesis and sequencing, DNA as a digital storage medium is no longer a nightmare. In 2001, a research team wrote two famous words from Dickens into the DNA sequence. Use three bases to represent an English letter, such as A = AAA, and B = AAC. In 2009, some research group successfully encoded the lyrics, scores, and pictures of the nursery song “Mary with a lamb” into a set of DNA sequences.

There are two main advantages of DNA storage. The first is that the storage conditions are simple. As long as DNA remains low enough, the data can be preserved for thousands of years, so the cost of ownership is almost reduced to zero; DNA can accurately load massive data with a density far exceeding electronic equipment devices. DNA storage technology is more suitable for “cold data” that stores important and does not require frequent access and calls. “Cold data” is close to zero energy consumption, theoretically, it can be preserved for more than thousands of years. In the future, DNA storage is likely to become the main storage media of huge cold data storage.

The second is that the DNA storage density is large and the area is small. If it is stored in the form of DNA, each movie produced can be stored in a space with small sugar. The calculation was published by Harvard University George Church and his colleagues on Nature Materials in 2016. The storage density of simple bacteria E. coli is about 1019 bits per cubic centimeter. Under such density, a DNA cube of about one meter long can well meet the current storage needs of the world. From the perspective of weight, the data of the data per gram of DNA can reach 215PB, about 2,2544,3840 Gigabit bytes (GB), which is equivalent to 220,000 1TB hard disk data storage.


DNA storage has been exceeded

In recent years, the research on DNA storage has made some breakthroughs. DNA has been used by researchers to manage data in different ways, and these researchers are trying to understand massive data. The latest progress in the new generation of sequencing technology allows me to easily read billions of DNA sequences at the same time. With this ability, researchers can use DNA sequences as molecular recognition “labels” to track the experimental results.

The research team of the University of Harvard uses CRISPR DNA editing technology to record the image of the human hand into the genome of E. coli, and the accuracy of the read is more than 90 %. Swiss researchers have designed a “DNA -OF -Things” storage architecture to produce materials with unusable memory. In the DOT framework, DNA molecules record data, and then these molecules are packaged in nano-nano monochromes. These silicon beads are fused into various materials for printing or casting any shape.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Microsoft Research Institute have developed a fully automatic system to write, store and read DNA codes.

In December 2021, Chinese DNA storage researchers announced the development of a sliding chip -this micro-flow device could save DNA chemicals and various reagents. A sliding chip can be an electrode, and its charge will change with the existence / non-existence of the DNA sequence.

In 2022, Tianjin University’s synthetic biology team successfully stored 10 selected Dunhuang murals in DNA and said that this mural information can be preserved for thousands of years at room temperature and can be preserved for 20,000 years at 9.4 ° C.


DNA storage technology of the giant back book

Even though DNA storage technology may have the significance of the era, can it be applied? In this regard, the giants in the storage industry are positive. Glou Technology Senior Researcher and Vice President Gurtej Sandhu were one of the earliest members of the project team participating in DNA storage technology research. In 2016, he participated in George M Harvard University George M. Church’s research team. Seagate has introduced Catalog’s DNA storage technology into its “laboratory”. Seagate’s DNA storage and micro-flow research projects have lasted for two and a half years, and there are currently four known patent applications.

This company that cooperates with Seagate was established in the US startup in 2016. Catalog once produced the DNA fragments of the 20-30 base pairs and sutured these fragments in enzymes to store data storage in a different order. Catalog has used DNA technology to store the novel “Galaxy Roaming Guide” and the poem “The Road to Unclete”.

Storage giants are optimistic about DNA storage technology, but the DNA storage track is more of a startup with biotechnology as the core. The core reason for this phenomenon is that the underlying key technology of DNA storage technology is DNA sequencing technology, DNA synthesis technology, and DNA storage technology.

In addition to CATALOG, the main company of DNA data storage technology, there is also American startup Iridia. Established in 2016, Iridia aims to develop the world’s first DNA -based data storage solution. By combining DNA polymer synthesis technology, electronic nano -switch and semiconductor manufacturing technology, the company is developing a highly parallel format to enable the nano module array to have the potential to store data with extremely high density.

DNA synthetic companies include French companies DNA Script and American company Molecular Assemblies.

DNA SCRIPT was established in 2014. The company focuses on using proprietary templates technology to create synthetic DNA. Through fast, economical, and high-quality DNA synthesis technology, the development of new applications such as new therapy, sustainable chemical production, improved crops, and data storage. The company’s unique enzymatic technology and nucleotide chemical synthesis platform can synthesize higher purity and longer DNA sequences, which improves the accuracy of the sequence by 500 times, the synthesis speed is faster, and the time is reduced by 50 times.

Molecular Assemblies was established in 2013. The company-developed enzymatic DNA synthesis technology that can motivate industrial synthetic biology, personalized therapy, precise diagnosis, information storage, nanotechnology, and other fields. The company’s proprietary DNA synthesis method is designed to provide a reliable and sustainable production of high-quality and sequence-specific DNA.

Twist Bioscience was established in 2013. The company is committed to providing customers in the fields of medicine, agriculture, industrial chemicals, and data storage with high-throughput DNA synthesis and sequencing services. The company’s development of the semiconductor-based DNA manufacturing process will reduce the response volume by 1 million times, and at the same time increase the output by 1000 times, thereby comprehensively synthesizing 9,600 genes on a single silicon wafer. In 2016, Microsoft and Twist Bioscience signed an agreement to order about 10 million DNA products for testing DNA data storage capabilities.

DNA sequencing companies mainly include the British company Oxford Nanopore Technology. Oxford Nanopore Technology was established in 2005 to develop a subversive electronic single-molecule sensing system based on nano-hole science. Oxford Nanopore Technology has developed a new generation of sensing technology. This technology uses nano -nano -grade holes -embedded in high-tech electronic devices for comprehensive molecular analysis.

In China, in 2019, Huawei announced the establishment of a Strategic Research Institute, saying that it mainly develops cutting-edge technology, including DNA storage. At the Huawei Global Analyst Conference in 2021, Xu Wenwei, director of Huawei and Dean of the Strategic Research Institute, said that he would use DNA storage to break through the large storage space model and coding technology and break the capacity wall.

On May 26, 2021, China Science and Technology Carbon Yuan (Shenzhen) Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (C -OTOM) was officially established. In September of this year, the China Science and Technology Carbon Yuan relied on the accumulation of Researcher Dai Junbiao’s team of Dai Junbiao in Shenzhen Advanced Technology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the early stage of the DNA storage field. The DNA online decoding system (referred to as “atom”) with independent intellectual property rights was used. The synthesis and sequencer have completed the complete process of the DNA storage technology path from encoding, synthesis, preservation, and sequencing, to decoding.


DNA storage challenges and potential

At present, there are still some technical problems in the implementation of DNA storage technology. Fan Chunhai, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that in the process of DNA storage, the efficiency of data input and reading is still not high, and the cost is longer and cost-effective. Yuan Yingjin, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and vice president of Tianjin University, said that DNA information storage is an emerging, multi-disciplinary deep cross -integrated research direction. Using DNA storage technology, it also needs multi -field research teams to jointly report together.

DNA storage technology span the times

If only cost is a problem, then this can be resolved. DNA storage is one of the most potential data storage methods.