A ‘molecular thumb drive’ stores big files in small droplets

A ‘molecular thumb drive’ stores big files in small droplets
Click here to view original web page at www.nature.com

Droplets of small molecules such as amino acids and sugars hold promise as a highly efficient data-storage system.

To cope with the breakneck pace of digital-data generation, researchers have eyed DNA-based storage systems, which might store information more densely than traditional semiconductor chips. But droplets of even smaller molecules offer another option, according to work by Jacob Rosenstein and his colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The researchers fed a digital image file — coded as a pattern of ones and zeroes — to a liquid-spraying robot, which translated this pattern onto a steel plate as a grid of droplets containing mixtures of these molecules. Within each droplet, the addition or exclusion of each substance represented a one or zero, respectively, from the original image file. Once the droplets dried, an instrument recovered the image’s digital code of ones and zeroes by analysing the chemicals at each of the thousands of positions in the grid.

The researchers encoded and retrieved images up to several kilobytes in size.

A traffic policeman on duty in the snow, outside Horseguards in Whitehall, 1968.

Historical measurements of British snowfall (pictured, London in 1968) helped to reveal glitches in a key meteorological data series. Credit: Peter King/Getty

False-colour SEM micrographs of a qubit IDT device

An apparatus that includes a quantum object called a qubit (gold) and a device (purple) to translate the sound into electrical signals. can detect a single ‘particle’ of sound. Credit: L. R. Sletten et al./Phys. Rev. X

An artificial octopus with different coloured curled tentacles

This polymer octopus reacts to heat by extending its tentacles, some of which turn from purple to pink. Credit: Jilin Univ./Univ. Manchester

False-colour scanning electron micrograph of a breast cancer cell

A cancer cell. Not all mutation-riddled stretches of tumour DNA are culprits for a patient’s cancer, according to a new analysis. Credit: Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/SPL

Electroencephalography research

A brain-monitoring system such as this one has been used to assess cognitive activity in people with brain injuries. Credit: Amelie Benoist/BSIP/Getty

Red ginger tabby cat sitting balanced on a wooden fence looking up at something that got its attention.

Australia’s 3.9 million pet cats kill roughly 180 million mammals a year, and feral cats’ toll is even higher. Credit: Chris Mirek Freeman/Alamy

An artist's impression of a giant bird which has been discovered in Crimea

A huge but fleet-footed bird (Pachystruthio dmanisensis; artist’s impression) lived along the shores of the Black Sea more than one million years ago. Credit: Andrey Atuchin

Glowing lava flowing from an eruption of the Bardarbunga Volcano, Iceland

Bárðarbunga Volcano in Iceland. Molten rock flowed from another, now-dormant Icelandic volcano after a blazingly fast rise from near the bottom of Earth’s crust. Credit: Arctic Images/Alamy

Closeup of wheat crops covered in water droplets

Wheat leaves (pictured) are so water-repellent that they can launch pathogen-laden dewdrops into the air. Credit: Aaron Riemer/EyeEm/Getty

Inferred large-scale DNA microscopy image

Individual RNA molecules (coloured dots) in a cell culture. An algorithm picked out the molecules by analysing the products of a chemical reaction and identifying their relative position. Credit: Joshua Weinstein/Broad Institute

Artist's impression of low-power LEDs packaged together with other components to make tiny computers less than 1mm in size

Miniaturized, highly efficient light-emitting diodes (green and red; artist’s impression) can be incorporated into computers less than one millimetre square. Credit: Ning Li and Kevin Han

Artistic reconstruction of a gregarious community of Ernietta

Open wide: some simple organisms (artist’s impression) adopted group living more than 540 million years ago. Credit: Dave Mazierski

Indian women dry their sarees after taking a holy dip at Ganges river during a hot day in Allahabad

Women in India dry their clothes after a dip in a river during a 2019 heatwave that saw Delhi experience its hottest June day on record. Credit: Ritesh Shukla/NurPhoto/Getty

Preparing crepes in a pan

Home chefs can craft a flawless crepe with tips from new fluid-dynamic modelling. Credit: Getty

Two Pharaoh cuttlefish fighting

The limbs on these duelling pharaoh cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis) formed with guidance from genes that also direct limb development in vertebrates. Credit: Steve De Neef/VW Pics/Universal Images Group/Getty

Coloured scanning electron micrograph of Enterococcus faecalis bacteria

Enterococcus faecalis bacteria metabolize the drug levodopa in the gut, limiting the amount of the compound that reaches the brain. Credit: Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/SPL

A view captured by Cassini of Saturn casting a shadow across its main rings

Data from the final days of the Cassini mission to Saturn have detailed how the planet’s moons shape its rings. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Bottles of Soylent meal replacement products

Study participants who mainly consumed the nutritional drink Soylent still experienced fluctuations in their gut microbe populations over time. Credit: Rick Kern/Getty for Soylent

Aerial view of the Neolithic crannog at Loch Bhorgastail, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.

Prehistoric farmers toiling in about 3500 BC erected an island roughly the size of a basketball court, as well as a causeway, in Scotland’s Loch Bhorgastail. Credit: J. Benjamin/Flinders Univ.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Nature Knows Nootropics