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Researchers Test Microchip for Growing Archival Data Storage DNA

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proof-of-concept microchip with microwells for growing DNA strands

The DNA grows in a test microchip's microwells that are a few hundred nanometers deep and reflect specific colors of light in this photo.

Credit: Sean McNeil / Georgia Tech Research Institute

Researchers have made significant advances toward the goal of a new microchip able to grow DNA strands that could provide high-density 3D archival data storage at ultra-low cost — and be able to hold that information for hundreds of years.

The microchip work is part of a project that could help address the growing demand for archival storage, providing a cost-effective alternative to current tape and hard-drive systems.

The proof-of-concept nanofabricated microchips include tiny microwell structures a few hundred nanometers deep from which the DNA strands grow in a massively parallel process. A unique molecule of DNA is grown in each of the wells, one base at a time.

Because each base that stores information consists of a small number of atoms, the technique will allow hundreds of terabytes of information to be stored in a single dot of DNA. The researchers are working with two biotech companies toward a goal of demonstrating commercially viable data storage that could eventually scale into the exabyte regime.

From Georgia Institute of Technology
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