Data storage in DNA could help replace large databanks and reduce the climate impact of data storage in the long run
Theoretically, DNA, due to its size advantage, can store all of the world’s data in the sizing equivalent of a coffee mug, as compared to magnetic tape storage, which would require space in the amounts of multiple football fields.The shapes and structure of DNA molecules only allow pairs between A and T, and, C and G, and occur in complementary sequences, called Watson-Crick complementarity. This pairing indicates that the existence of one pair can accurately predict which pair will follow. Thus, even in reconstruction, the pairings and, therefore, the binary code can be reproduced accurately without loss of data. That is, the pairing requirement means DNA sequencing can be predicted during cloning and reproduction, and the synthetic DNA data entered will be copied accurately. As a result, DNA can be managed without high maintenance costs or effort and does not require physical filing systems. Furthermore, the data stored in DNA are easily replicated for negligible cost, even across generations of DNA reproduction, without data loss or corruption. DNA storage is currently an expensive venture that also requires a significant investment to extract data from DNA; however, it is potentially more cost-, energy-, and time-efficient for archival purposes. Furthermore, if adequately held in salt, it can be preserved for decades without excessive climate control, lasting longer than the data in controlled data centres. Data stored in plant seeds, for example, will not require temperature control and ensure longevity and can be replicated easily without loss of data.
While DNA data storage doesn’t require climate control for naturally occurring DNA, like in plants, synthetic DNA requires cold and dark storage, reintroducing the problem of storage spaces as with magnetic tapes.Storing data in plant seeds is the most economical and sustainable solution for data storage currently. Furthermore, this solution counters the previously mentioned limitations since sources are self-preservatory and can be stored without excess synthetic protection. Despite these drawbacks, due to upcoming alternative innovations in the same field, in the last five years, many companies have also begun selling this service, both storing data in naturally occurring DNA and synthetic DNA.
These innovations are critical to DNA data storage and are set to significantly influence the data storage industry.Government funding in these research fields indicates that technological innovations will innovate data reading devices that can process data much faster than what is possible today. In addition, these devices must possess random access retrieval methods and operate customisable DNA storage devices. These innovations are critical to DNA data storage and are set to significantly influence the data storage industry. While DNA data storage is not a solution for everyday or commercial use in the short term, it does allow archives to become more sustainable and assist in the journey towards climate efficiency and economical use of space and other resources when it comes to the fundamental of technology growth, i.e., data and data storage. Before this innovation becomes a part of everyday technology, it can, thus, be incorporated into archiving and record maintenance, replacing the large databanks that exist to hold the world’s information so far. Additionally, this will combat the even more significant issue of the climate impact of data storage and blockchain technologies, reducing both the economic and social costs of data centres in the long run.
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Shravishtha Ajaykumar is Associate Fellow at the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology. Her fields of research include geospatial technology, data privacy, cybersecurity, and strategic ...Read More +