DMOS team lead by Dr. Zadegan receives $1.5M from NSF for scalable storage of digital information in DNA

SBMI lab receives a $1.5M fund from NSF SemiSynBio-II to conduct research at the intersection of synthetic biology and semiconductor industry. The awarded project aims to create a sustainable and scalable DNA-based digital data storage system. Our team at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering extensively serves underrepresented and underutilized students. Our mission is to train students, boost the local economy, and engage the community of the central North Carolina Piedmont Triad region through the educational and outreach programs that foster economic impacts of the SemiSynBio. The planned activities include a new synthetic biology curriculum, undergraduate research experiences, annual synthetic biology symposium, and yearly science day.
Current data storage materials and techniques are approaching their fundamental limits, while the demand for memory increases exponentially. By the middle of this century, the world will experience catastrophic shortages of digital memory. DNA is a promising alternative to digital data storage materials when durability, information density, and operation energy becomes critical. However, current DNA-based digital storage technologies lack the sustainability and scalability of a viable alternative to silicon-based memory materials. E.g., most DNA memory systems depend on de novo DNA synthesis processes that generate large amounts of hazardous waste. Inspired by biological systems in handling, processing, and overwriting the genetic information, this research represents a novel approach for DNA-based memory. Similar to writing data into blank tapes, the DNA Mutational Overwriting Storage (DMOS) will overwrite the sequence content (state) of the template DNA domains (bits) to write the data. The DMOS does not require de novo DNA synthesis. Therefore, it provides an environmentally sustainable solution for DNA-based data storage. DMOS functions at the intersection of computers, synthetic biology, and semiconductors.

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