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Within the Nucleotides

Microsoft is working on using DNA as a means of data storage, Technology Review reports.

"DNA is the densest known storage medium in the universe, just based on the laws of physics. That is the reason why people are looking into this," says Victor Zhirnov from the Semiconductor Research Corporation. "And the problem we are solving is the exponential growth of stored information." 

For instance, Tech Review notes that Microsoft last year said that it stored some 200 megabytes of data — which included a music video from the band OK Go— within DNA.

However, Tech Review adds that there are a number of issues to overcome before DNA can be a widespread storage device. First, the cost of converting data into DNA nucleotides has to come down. It says that the materials used in Microsoft's demonstration project would be worth some $800,000. Additionally, the labor involved would have to be automated and sped up, as it took weeks for Microsoft to conduct that experiment, Tech Review notes.

But the stability and density of DNA are alluring, it adds.          

Microsoft Research's Doug Carmean tells Tech Review that their goal is to have a "proto-commercial system in three years storing some amount of data on DNA in one of our data centers, for at least a boutique application."