3D Printing May Be the Key to Affordable Data Storage Using DNA

Share this Article

Soon, digital data may be stored in a tubes of DNA.

Finding more storage space seems to be an ongoing quest for modern humans. Our daily lives reflect this, and usually from beginning to end; in fact, my morning began today listening to my teenagers bicker about the mess in their bedroom closet. One likes everything tidy and out of sight, while the younger tends to toss things into the closet as if it were a black hole for dirty clothes and items that are basically unwanted. Although met with some disdain for interrupting their routine morning debate on the way to school, I pointed out to both of them that the closet can be a very effective storage area when used correctly.

We also have the weekly roundup with everyone looking for their digital storage devices, with flash drives scattered about as if they don’t matter a bit, until the homework is due. I think tonight’s dinner conversation should be very interesting indeed—and if you are reading this, perhaps the same at your house tonight—as we talk about DNA and its potential not only to store data, but to do so safely for thousands of years.

This process has been picking up steam since 2012 when scientists at Harvard University used DNA as the storage medium for a whole book. Five years later, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began looking into DNA further for storage of information. While magnetic tape is a common and usually reliable way of storing everything from tunes to important research, it is bulky, and only good for about ten years. And the studies into using DNA reflect a common area often looked toward for inspiration: nature. This time, scientists are looking toward the magic of the human body as well as progressive technology like 3D printing.

“[Whether you are] a virus, a cucumber, an elephant, Donald Trump, whatever,” says Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist at Columbia University. “You store the most important information in your life in your DNA.”

“We need about 10 tons of DNA to store all the world’s data,” says Erlich. “That’s something you could fit on a semi-trailer.”

Erlich also points out that DNA has little chance of ever becoming obsolete, unlike so much of the artificial storage technology we have produced thus far.

“It takes $1 and one hour to copy a tube of DNA,” says Emily Leproust, Chief Executive at Twist Bioscience, which uses 3D printing to write DNA. “It may sound high — but if you have in a tube the equivalent of a data center, you can copy an entire data center for $1 and one hour. That is absolutely unheard of.”

The 2012 Harvard paper, “Next-Generation Digital Information Storage in DNA,” was written by George M. Church, Yuan Gao, and Sriram Kosuri. Now an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, Kosuri states that on the topic of DNA, he found the paper to be one of the most simple published. See the graphic below to understand a little more about how binary codes can be transferred into data and then stored on DNA.

Some processes for actually writing DNA may not be cost-effective, but one company sees that differently with the use of 3D printing.

“We believe that we have a road map to be able lower the cost of DNA (synthesis) by a millionfold,” says Leproust.

While that is still in the conceptual stage, numerous researchers are involved in the study of how DNA can be used for storage, along with performing tests for accuracy. Currently, Erlich and his team are being funded by DARPA to continue working on algorithms that prevent error in DNA synthesis.

Discuss this article and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Source/Images: Financial Times]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing & More in Fabrication, Materials, Applications for Liquid Metal Antennas

Zhejiang University Sheds Light on APVC with 3D Printed Surgical Models



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Chinese University of Hong Kong Studies 3D Printing for Heart Disease

In the recently published ‘Three-dimensional printing in structural heart disease and intervention,’ authors Yiting Fan, Randolph H.L. Wong, and Alex Pui-Wai Lee, all from The Chinese University of Hong Kong,...

VA Puget Sound Initiative: Advancing 3D Printing for Heart Disease

For over one hundred years, treating heart disease meant opening the patient’s chest to access the heart through open-heart surgery. The procedure usually takes between three to six hours and...

China: Improving Cell Viability by Refining Structural Design in Scaffolds

Chinese researchers are seeking new ways to create stronger cell growth and sustainability in scaffolds. With their findings outlined in the recently published, ‘Structure-induced cell growth by 3D printing of...

Scientists Use 3D Printed Models to Further Congenital Heart Disease Studies

In the recently published ‘Accurate Congenital Heart Disease Model Generation for 3D Printing,’ researchers explore 3D printing for diagnosis, treatment, and planning in congenital heart disease (CHD) patients. CHD usually...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Services & Data

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!