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Automated DNA data storage demonstrated

DNA data storage system
Microsoft and University of Washington researchers built an automated system that was fed by bottles of chemicals to encode date in custom-designed DNA molecules. (Microsoft / UW Image)

DNA data storage holds the promise of putting huge amounts of information into a test tube — but who wants to carry test tubes around a data center all day?

Researchers from Microsoft ahd the University of Washington are working on a better way: a completely automated system that can turn digital bits into coded DNA molecules for storage, and turn those molecules back into bits when needed.

They used their proof-of-concept system, described in a paper published today in Nature Scientific Reports, to encode the word “hello” in strands of DNA and then read it out. That may sound like a ridiculously simple task, but it served to show that the system works.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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