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DNA Hard Drives Can Store Up To 700 Terabytes of Digital Files

Apr 10, 2016 02:18 PM EDT

Do you always find your hard drive storage insufficient for all the gigabytes of digital files you own? Well, this might be a strange solution, but scientists recently developed a storage that can hold 700 terabytes of files in--wait for it--a small speck of an artificial DNA.

Scientists from the University of Washington successfully developed a technology which can store data in a small thread of DNA which is so small, it's almost invisible to the naked eye. 

"Researchers have developed one of the first complete systems to store digital data in DNA--allowing companies to store data that today would fill a big box store supercenter in a space the size of a sugar cube," as per a Science Daily report.

Based from the same article, the team of scientists and electrical engineers completed a whole round of data storage and retrieval of digital data using DNA molecules. If further developed and made available publicly, it will change the future of data storage in the world. 

Science Daily also said the team has found triumphantly "encoded digital data from four image files into the nucleotide sequences of synthetic DNA snippets."

Experts said that the data storage solution is of utmost importance as they projected that in the year 2020, digital files needing storage would grow as much as 44 gigabytes.

Popular Science even said that if proven efficient, it will be safe to say that the "sky is the limit" when it comes to data storage.

Molecular Information Systems Lab in the University of Washington and Microsoft researchers briefly described the storage and retrieval process. They said that the data is "chopped into pieces," and then stored by "synthesizing a massive number of tiny DNA molecules." These are either dehydrated or preserved for lengthy storage. 

The files can be accessed through DNA sequencing techniques, where the data can be "read" by converting it back to an image, video or document file with street addresses to reorder the data.

Currently, the major obstacle in further developing this storage technique is the cost of creating an artificial DNA. 

Dr. Spike Narayan, director of Science and Technology at IBM said, "Specifically, researchers in the U.K. estimated recently that it would cost more than $12,000 per MB to encode DNA data, but only around $200 per MB to read that data back."

"The hope is that the techniques for writing DNA will catch up with the amazing progress that is happening in technology to sequence or read DNA," he added. "Until there is greater demand, it will be many years until we see greater technological adoption due to cost factors."

But scientists are hopeful that this technology will reach its full potential because it is undeniably useful to mankind.

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