50TB on a DVD? You bet your bacteria

50TB on a DVD? You bet your bacteria


If an Indian scientist has his way, hard drives could be going the way of the dinosaurs.

His name is V Renugopalakrishnan, and he works at Harvard Medical School, where he developed a method of storing information that he claims can produce a DVD with up to 50 terabytes of data.

The key to this storage method is biology-based, a layer of light-activated protein found in a bacterial microbe. The name of this microbe is bacteriorhodopsin, and it grows in salt marshes. The Harvard team modified the microbe’s DNA so that its natural chemical energy-storing tendencies create permanent data storage.

By spreading such a bacteria-based layer on a DVD, the scientists believe that they can create storage caches up to 50 terabytes. Tests of this theory are not final, of course. Mass production of such a storage method, if it happens, is likely a few years away. Still, the announcement, made at a nanoscience conference in Australia, holds promise.