A DNA-based system could safely store data for millennia.

Today's digital systems can store information for only around 50 years, but encoding it in DNA could greatly extend its lifetime. Robert Grass at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his colleagues have devised a system that encapsulates and protects DNA strands in silica glass. The team also included redundancy codes to correct errors that arise when writing, storing and reading the data.

Using the technique, the authors recovered 83 kilobytes of data — including the full Swiss Federal Charter from 1291 — by sequencing nearly 5,000 pieces of DNA that were kept under conditions simulating storage at around 10 °C for 2,000 years.

Angew. Chem. Int. Edn http://doi.org/f23gmf (2015)