To explore synthetic biology approaches for in vivo data storage

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Computing


Approach to research
In order to reach my research, aim I am conducting the following:
* Data gathering and analysis of how to modify the current design so that it will work with the machinery within the cell whilst remaining protected.
* Experiments to test its performance in prokaryotes (E. coli is the prokaryote we will start with)
I am using many synthetic biology processes and nanotechnology concepts to achieve this. Synthetic biology is the redesigning or creation of new biological systems and nanotechnology is the creation of devices on a nanoscale

Traditional data storage media comprises of optical, magnetic and semiconductor memory. The major problem with it is the incoming "Data Apocalypse". The "Data Apocalypse" is a so-called event that society runs out of data storage. This event could happen as data creation is currently outstripping data storage media. Data creation is currently trending at a rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes per day which equates 10^18 Bytes. This is combined with the environmental cost of traditional data storage, it has been forecasted by many analysts that data centres are responsible for 2% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, making them equivalent to the aviation industry. This is only predicted to get worse especially with the ever-increasing dependency on the internet and other technologies in modern day life. Thus, a new technology is necessary.
In early 2013, the idea of using DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) to store information started to gather funding as its more information dense and environmentally friendlier. The method currently used to store information on DNA uses an encoding algorithm and decoding algorithm to "write" bits of information onto nucleotides. My project seeks to improve, optimise and extend the state of the art by looking at computer aided design for synthetic biology and the marshalling of DNA/RNA nanotechnologies.

Future applications
Throughout this I will be developing several novel processes such as how to engineer DNA and RNA structures so that they are compatible in prokaryotes which will not just be relevant to in vivo data storage but can have applications in the medical therapeutic industry to name but one.


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