Data storage

DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS project takes digital data storage to a new level

Scientists are studying different technologies to have efficient and cost effective alternatives for data storage in the future.

Image credit: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia.

One of these key technologies is DNA digital data storage. DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS is a European funded project that aims to combine this bio-inspired technology with nanomaterial science to decorate DNA sequences using colored nano-lights. This will indeed support faster read / write processes and unique data encoding concepts.

Roman Krahne and Denis Garoli, Principal Investigator and Principal Investigator at the Optoelectronics Group at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology-IIT) in Genoa (Italy) are the project coordinators.

The project also includes an interdisciplinary team of eminent researchers from Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The European Union within the framework of the Horizon 2020 framework program is funding this project to the tune of 3.1 million euros for the next 3 years.

The huge volume of data produced by the company is growing rapidly. Digital data is stored in bits as a series of ones and zeros. Several billion of these everyone-generated bits of data should be stored on devices like smartwatches, tablets, cellphones, and computers.

Thus, the need for new smart and energy efficient technologies capable of storing data is of the utmost importance for a sustainable society. DNA – a powerful solution provided by nature – is where the information that describes our organisms is encoded in unique four base sequences (A, T, C, G).

Exceptionally high storage density, low manufacturing costs and long term stability are achieved when DNA molecules are used as information carriers in modern technologies.

However, DNA data storage capacities can be unlocked by overcoming a few key hurdles: the lack of rapid reconfiguration that would be the basis of the read / write processes, the slow and continuous read of the DNA sequence, and the ex-new cost. costly manufacture of the target DNA sequence by enzymatic synthesis.

Taking digital data storage to a new level is at the heart of the DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS project. This will be achieved by expanding the zero / one binary concept to a broad spectrum of diverse colors, where multiple colors incorporated into the DNA sequence will be able to encode information in a more compact manner.

The main plan here is to use a series of extremely small nanoparticles with various colors to decorate the DNA sequence, and also to use optical technologies to read this sequence. These optical technologies are faster than electric and more energy efficient because they dissipate very little heat.

Unique DNA strands have a unique recognition ability that will be used both to define the DNA sequence, which encodes the data, and to reconfigure the sequence which helps to modify and rewrite the data.

The project aims to create unique nanomaterials for encoding light, to design innovative reading devices, to develop new algorithms for data storage beyond the zero / one binary level and to create the resources for industries. science and technology of the future.

The DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS consortium includes Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (as coordinator, Italy), University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), CIC biomaGUNE (Spain), DNASCRIPT (France), Elements (Italy), Universität Stuttgart (Germany), Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (Switzerland), Technische Universität München (Germany), AB ANALITICA (Italy).