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DNA Data Company Creates Portable Storage Media

DNA Card

DNA Card (Biomemory, Cision)

4 Dec. 2023. A company developing DNA into a feasible method for large-scale data storage unveiled a credit card-sized device using DNA for off-line data storage. Biomemory, a two year-old biotechnology company in Paris, now offers its DNA Card that the company says can hold 1 kilobyte or 1,000 characters of text, as a practical demonstration of its technology.

The company says DNA data storage makes it possible to store digital data at one million times more density than current media, such as solid-state drives or magnetic tape, to meet a rapidly growing need for reliable data storage. And, says Biomemory, DNA offers a much more durable medium for data storage than current technologies, as evidenced by the ability to retrieve and decode DNA from fossils of extinct animals unearthed after many thousands of years. In addition, the company says its process is environmentally friendly and remains stable at ambient temperatures, without an external energy source, and emits no carbon dioxide.

Science & Enterprise reported on Biomemory in Nov. 2022, when the company raised €5 million in seed funds. At the time, researchers from Biomemory had recently posted a manuscript describing the company’s process called DNA Drive that uses an algorithm to encode binary data into DNA sequences. Biomemory creates synthetic DNA reflecting those sequences for assembly into bacterial DNA plasmids, where the encoded DNA sequences are amplified and extracted for storage. When needed, the company’s algorithm decodes the stored DNA sequences back into binary data.

DNA extracted and decoded

The DNA Card, says Biomemory, uses this process to create a chip in the card that stores data specified by the user in synthetic DNA. Individuals send the company one kilobyte of data for encoding into DNA, equivalent to a short paragraph of text, that Biomemory returns to the individual encoded into DNA on two identical cards. The company then asks the recipient to send one of the cards to its partner Eurofins Genomics that provides genomic sequencing services. Eurofins Genomics extracts the DNA from the customer’s card, sequences the DNA, and returns the text to the user for comparison with the original. Biomemory charges a fee of €1,000 ($US 1,080) for the service.

While the amount of data on a DNA Card is limited, Biomemory says it’s still a major advance in DNA data storage. “After years of talk about the potential of molecular computing,” says Biomemory CEO Erfane Arwani in a company statement released through Cision, “we are incredibly proud to bring the first DNA data storage product to market, that not only pushes the boundaries of innovation but also aligns with our commitment to environmental sustainability and efficiency.”

The company says it’s scaling up the process to met the constantly expanding storage needs of data centers. By 2026, says Biomemory, the company plans to unveils its Biomemory Prime service for storing 100 petabytes of data. One petabyte is equivalent to 1,024 terabytes, with one terabyte equaling some 1 trillion bytes of data.

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