Nucleic Acid Memory (NAM)

  • Boise State University
  • Boise
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In Nucleic Acid Memory (NAM), digital and non-volatile data is encoded by selecting combinations of single-stranded DNA with (1) or without (0) docking-site domains. When self-assembled with longer strands of DNA, staple strands form DNA origami breadboards via molecular self-assembly. Molecular self-assembly of DNA origami breadboards is equivalent to programming paper origami to fold itself into a trillion paper cranes without the need of machines or human intervention. Once fabricated, information encoded into the breadboards is read by monitoring the binding of fluorescent imager probes using super-resolution microscopy. To enhance data retention, a custom multi-layer error correction scheme that combined fountain and bi-level parity codes was used. Each DNA origami encoded unique data-droplet, index, orientation, and error-correction data. The error-correction algorithms fully recovered the digital message when individual docking sites, or entire origami, were missing. Visuals that both explain and validate NAM as an emerging memory technology are found in Figures 1 and 2 by visiting: www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22277-y

The intellectual merit of this innovation includes: (1) identifying the most efficient and robust algorithm for coding NAM, (2) identifying the most efficient and robust algorithm for generating sequences for NAM, (3) identifying the size, sequence, and modularity limitations to biologically produce single-stranded DNA genomes to fabricate NAM, (4) characterizing the data critical defects and defect rates within NAM, and (5) achieving the resolution and throughput limitations of super resolution microscopy as both a reading and sequencing technology specific to NAM.

What Makes This Product The Coolest Thing Made In Idaho?

Information and communication technologies generate vast amounts of data that will far eclipse today's data flows. Memory materials must therefore be suitable for high-volume manufacturing. At the same time, they must have elevated information stability and limit the energy consumption and trailing environmental impacts that such flows will demand. Analysts estimate that global memory demand — at 3 × 10^24 bits — will exceed projected silicon supply in 2040. To meet such requirements, flash-memory manufacturers would need ∼10^9 kg of silicon wafers even though the total projected wafer supply is ∼10^7−10^8 kg. Such forecasts motivate an exploration of unconventional materials with cost-competitive performance attributes. With information retention times that range from thousands to millions of years, volumetric density 1000 times greater than flash memory and energy of operation 100,000,000 times less, DNA memory is the coolest thing made in Idaho because it is a viable and compelling alternative to electronic memory. For perspective, recent advancements in magnetic tape report a two-dimensional areal information density up to 31 Gbit/cm^2. In comparison, our DNA memory, which contains data domains spaced at 10 nm intervals achieved an areal density of about 1000 Gbit/cm^2 in its first prototype.


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