Researchers cook up tasty DNA memory device

Every now and again the worlds of electronics and gastronomy collide to offer some deliciously useful devices.

Now, a team of researchers at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have whetted our appetite once again with a tasty DNA-based data storage system.

According to the team, “write-once-read-many-times” (WORM) memory has been created using a thin film of salmon DNA embedded with silver nanoparticles and sandwiched between two electrodes.

Resembling what a decadent Russian oligarch might select from a Heston Blumenthal tasting menu, the tasty morsel also doubles up for data encoding once a UV light is aimed at it.

Thinner than any ceviche and slimmer than your average sashimi, the nanometre-thick slab of salmon DNA represents the forefront of modernist cuisine, and could offer an alternative to inorganic materials like silicon, which probably taste horrible.

Drenched in a UV light, the silver atoms cluster together, and when a high enough voltage is passed through it switches from “off” to “on”, with the team still working on “medium-rare”.

Once switched on the change is irreversible, locking in the flavour and retaining the information indefinitely.

Apparently the storage system will be useful in the design of optical storage devices, and according to TechEye’s staff sommelier goes well with a nice Chianti.