Bacterial Nanopores Found to Have Potentials for Data Storage

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Engineers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) developed a way to read data using nanopores, said the EPFL. This discovery has shown higher accuracy and resolution than another similar tech. It is also deemed cheaper and longer-lasting.

Bacterial nanopores address issues posed by other storage innovations that use biological molecules. EPFL developed this technique using aerolysin.

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This technology uses nano-sized holes that bacteria make into other cells as a way to destroy them. The pores are made using proteins called “pore-forming toxins,” which punches a tube-like channel through the cell’s membrane.

Bacterial Nanopores Potentials for Data Storage

EPFL bioengineers use nanopores for “sensing” biomolecules like DNA and RNA. This new development uses voltage to pass molecules through the nanopore, creating a unique electrical signal called “ionic signature.” It is also used to identify these signals.

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Bacterial nanopores are just part of a string of developments of using biological molecules to store data. The use of DNA has been and is currently still being explored. It has shown a lot of potential in encoding and reading enormous amounts of data.

DNA as storage is seen as a safe and reproducible option for the growing amount of information being generated in the modern world.

According to data, each individual in the world generates around 1.7 megabytes of data every second, amounting to 418 zettabytes of data. For context, this is equivalent to 418 billion units of one-terabyte hard drives, as per EPFL.

Nanopores also showed potentials in reading information encoded in DNA. However, it is important to note that the use of these nano-sized holes poses a limitation, especially with regards to resolution and read-outs.

This poses an issue as it can impair the function of nanopore systems as storage for reading and writing information.

With EPFL engineers use aerolysin to form pores and detect molecules. These molecules, called “digital polymers,” are made to be read by aerolysin nanopores.

The development has already been filed as a patent with the effort of Matteo Dal Peraro’s team at EPFL’s School of Life Sciences and Alexandra Radenovic’s team at EPFL’s School of Engineering.

Meanwhile, the digital polymers were developed in the laboratory of Jean-Francois Lutz from the Institut Charles Sadron of the CNRS. It is explained as “a combination fo DNA nucleotides and non-biological monomers designed to pass through aerolysin nanopores and give out an electrical signal that could be read out as a ‘bit.’”

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