Future protein-based DVD discs hold terabytes of storage

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New research shows that DVDs coated with a special protein may make computer hard drives obsolete. Professor V Renugopalakrishnan of the Harvard Medical School in Boston says that a protein layer made of tiny genetically altered microbe proteins could allow for DVDs to hold terabytes of information. He reported his findings at the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is Brisbane. He claims that the new technology will eliminate the need for hard drives completely.

Renugopalakrishnan says high-capacity storage devices are in critical high demand these days with the defense, medical, and entertainment industries constantly transferring terabytes of information such as satellite images, imaging scans, and movies. He says that the growing need for storage simply cannot be met with the existing storage technology.

As for what we know so far about storage devices, there’s Blu-ray and HD DVD which boast the most storage space. However, this new protein-based technology will have many advantages over current technology such as blu-ray and HD DVD. This new technology will be able to hold up to 20 times the amount as blu-ray and, eventually, up to 50,000 gigabytes which comes out to 50 terabytes of information.

The protein used to coat the DVD is a light-activated protein found in the membrane of a salt marsh microbe Halobacterium salinarum. The protein is called bacteriorhodopsin (bR). It captures and stores sunlight, converting it to chemical energy. Usually, the light captured converts to intermediate molecules for only a few days. These molecules each have their own unique shape and color; a perfect binary system for storing data. Luckily, Renugopalakrishnan and his team have found a way to modify the DNA so the intermediate stage lasts for several years.

Renugopalakrishnan and his team hope to have a commercialized USB disk in 12 months and a DVD in 18 to 24 months. It should be interesting to see how this works out. This technology looks incredible.

Source: ABC

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