DNA-based digital data storage: how nature holds the key to the data storage problem

Digital data production is growing exponentially, but current storage technologies are not keeping up with demand. Some researchers are advocating for DNA-based data storage as an alternative. DNA can hold 9Tb per mm3 after considering practical system overheads, resulting in a storage density 115,000 times higher than current archival storage methods can provide. Additionally, DNA-based storage requires little to no maintenance and fewer resources than present storage technology, and it is unlikely to ever become obsolete. The DNA storage pipeline of going from bits to DNA bases and vice versa consists of the following steps: writing (encoding and DNA synthesis), storage, retrieval and reading (DNA sequencing and decoding). DNA synthesis is currently the major bottleneck for commercialising the technology due to its high costs and time consumption. This article discusses the principles of DNA-based storage, the current commercial position of DNA-mediated archival storage and technological improvements necessary for further upscaling.