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Bio-Camera: Singapore’s Breakthrough in Bio Data Storage

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Singapore has set a new standard in data storage with the development of a “biological camera” that uses living cells to encode and store data in DNA. The results of the research, led by Associate Professor Poh Chueh Loo of the National University of Singapore (NUS), have the potential to transform the data storage sector.

This breakthrough proposes a new paradigm for addressing global data overload and environmental concerns associated with old storage technologies. Finding alternate storage solutions has become critical as the globe generates data at an unprecedented rate.

The Global Datasphere’s exponential growth predicted to reach 175 ZB by 2025, needs a storage solution that outperforms the limitations of traditional systems while minimising the environmental effect of resource-intensive data centres.

Due to its remarkable capacity, stability, and historical relevance in information storage, DNA has recently gained attention as a viable storage medium. Associate Professor Poh emphasises that one gramme of DNA can store about 215,000 terabytes of data, which is the equivalent of storing 45 million DVDs. Further, DNA is easily manipulable with molecular biology instruments, can be maintained at room temperature, and has exceptional resilience, lasting for generations.

Unlike past DNA storage studies, which concentrated on synthesising DNA strands outside of cells, the team took use of the amount of DNA found within living cells. These cells function as a “data bank,” removing the need for external synthesis.

To do this, the researchers created “BacCam,” a groundbreaking device that combines biological and digital technology to mimic the functionality of a digital camera using biological components. The researchers used optogenetics, a technology that uses light to influence cell activity, to record “images” by imprinting light signals onto the DNA within cells, much like undeveloped photographic film.

The recorded photos were then identified using barcoding techniques. To organise, sort, and reconstruct the stored photos, machine learning (ML) techniques were used, mirroring the data acquisition, storage, and retrieval procedures of a digital camera.

This accomplishment marks a significant step forward in the integration of biological and computer systems. According to Associate Professor Poh, the technology provides a cost-effective and efficient way to DNA data storage, setting the framework for future advancements in recording and preserving information.

The combination of DNA and optogenetic circuits not only examines the possibilities of DNA data storage but also converts existing data-capture technologies into a biological framework.

The breakthrough in DNA data storage opens new avenues for research and applications. This discovery has the potential to revolutionise information storage by bridging the boundary between biological and digital systems, providing a viable alternative to established approaches. Continued progress in DNA data storage will fuel additional innovation in the industry and impact the future of data storage technologies.

Singapore’s achievement in establishing a “biological camera” for DNA data storage demonstrates the country’s scientific innovation leadership. The team has cleared the road for efficient and cost-effective data storage by harnessing the power of DNA and optogenetic circuits. This achievement not only tackles the issue of data overload but also demonstrates the power of merging biological and digital systems.

Singapore’s unwavering commitment to innovation in DNA data storage creates intriguing new possibilities for future developments in the sector. The nation establishes itself as a front-runner in the quest to completely transform information recording and storage by pushing the bounds of what is conceivable.

Further, Singapore’s academics and scientists are setting the groundwork for future progress through their pioneering work in addition to accomplishing amasing achievements. They continuously seek out new directions and push the boundaries of knowledge, which cultivates an environment that is conducive to new discoveries that will influence the development of data storage technology in the future.


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