Humans have known that DNA could be used as a storage medium for data ever since Watson and Crick discovered the structure. However, translating data from DNA from a biological form into something digitally readable has been elusive. The US Government has awarded a contract to delve into this unique method of data storage and recovery to Roswell Biotechnologies. The company announced that it became part of a team alongside researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) that was tasked with developing a method for reading data stored within DNA at a rate of 10TB per second.
Interest in Molecular Storage Increases
The research grant valued at some $25 million comes from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Within IARPA is a program termed Molecular Information Storage (MIST) that deals solely with unlocking the potential of biotechnology storage. The intention is to capitalize on existing methods of low-cost DNA sequencing to use the biological elements in areas outside of healthcare. The program forms part of a government-funded initiative to examine the feasibility of using DNA storage to allow for exabyte-level storage. While Roswell is one of the contributors to the biological side of the project, it also incorporates input from Microsoft and the University of Washington in roles dealing with coding algorithms, data analysis, and system architecture, with Twist Bioscience dealing with the DNA synthesis part of the project.
A Futuristic Technology
The DNA sequencing and storage project is far beyond anything humanity currently has access to. Microsoft and Roswell have been working alongside each other to develop a more robust methodology for storing and accessing data from a DNA molecule. Roswell’s Chief Scientific Officer Barry Merriman notes that the company’s Molecular Electronics chip was designed with that purpose in mind. The company hopes that the added funding from the government will allow it to proceed with the development and perfection of its chip’s technology that much faster.