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Power of DNA to Store Information Gets an Upgrade

A team of interdisciplinary researchers, including Oden Institute alumnus, John Hawkins, has discovered a new technique to store information in DNA – in this case "The Wizard of Oz," translated into Esperanto – with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency. The technique harnesses the information-storage capacity of intertwined strands of DNA to encode and retrieve information in a way that is both durable and compact. The technique is described in a paper in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The key breakthrough is an encoding algorithm that allows accurate retrieval of the information even when the DNA strands are partially damaged during storage. Humans are creating information at exponentially higher rates than we used to, contributing to the need for a way to store more information efficiently and in a way that will last a long time. Companies such as Google and Microsoft are among those exploring using DNA to store information.

"We tried to tackle as many problems with the process as we could at the same time," said Hawkins. "What we ended up with is pretty remarkable."

Read the full story at UT Austin's College of Natural Sciences website.

Posted: July 15, 2020