By Sarah Vitak
The digital universe could add some 175 zettabytes of data per year by 2025, according to the market-analysis firm IDC. That’s 175 with 21 zeroes after it. That amount of information will require massive data centres and vast energy resources to maintain. A small but growing group of researchers advocates DNA as a sustainable, stable replacement.
These efforts got a lift last November, when a coalition of computing and biotech firms including Microsoft, Twist Bioscience, Illumina and Western Digital announced that they were forming the DNA Data Storage Alliance (DDSA). The alliance hopes to “organize the industry and think of how to build the whole ecosystem for DNA data storage”, says Xavier Godron, chief technology officer at DNA Script, a Paris-based developer of bench-top DNA synthesizers and a member of the alliance.
Karin Strauss, a researcher at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, says the DDSA formed in response to the “critical mass and community” coalescing around the technology, which until recently was largely theoretical. “It sounded like science fiction five years ago. It’s really starting to happen,” she says. The process of DNA data storage combines DNA synthesis, DNA sequencing and an encoding and decoding algorithm to pack information into […]