Nano@Tech Fall 2022 Series | Molecular Archives: High-Density Digital Data Storage with DNA

Nicholas Guise | Senior Research Scientist; Georgia Tech Research Institute

Abstract: Exponential increases in digital data production are rapidly outpacing improvements in cost and density of conventional magnetic storage media. Large industry and government entities now routinely need to archive digital data at the Exabyte scale, at five-year storage and maintenance costs approaching $100M. Encoding data in synthetic DNA offers the potential for deployable storage technologies that can eventually scale into the Exabyte regime and beyond, with substantially reduced physical footprint, power, and cost requirements relative to magnetic tape or hard drives. Existing implementations of DNA data storage are limited to small file sizes and boutique applications such as time capsules. The SMASH program is an IARPA-funded effort aimed at demonstrating commercially relevant data storage volumes and costs, in order to open large archival applications and attract further investment from private industry. GTRI is leading a team of partners from the biotech industry (Twist Bioscience, Roswell Biotechnologies) to develop scalable technologies for DNA data read/write operations. At Georgia Tech, the SMASH team is producing nanofabricated “DNA microchips” for massively parallel synthesis of DNA, combining new techniques from synthetic biology with the proven manufacturability and scalability of CMOS control electronics.

Bio: Dr. Nicholas Guise is a Senior Research Scientist and Associate Chief of the Quantum Systems Division at GTRI. Dr. Guise obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University and completed an NRC postdoctoral fellowship in the atomic spectroscopy group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At GTRI, Dr. Guise has led research programs in secure quantum communications, scalable quantum computing with microfabricated ion traps, and molecular information storage. He currently serves as PD/PI for the SMASH (Scalable Molecular Archival Software and Hardware) program, an interdisciplinary IARPA-funded effort towards large-scale storage of digital data in synthetic DNA, leading a team that spans academia and the biotech industry.