For the first time ever, using mass spectrometry, researchers have successfully read several bytes of data recorded on a molecular scale using synthetic polymers. Their work, conducted under the aegis of the Institut Charles Sadron (CNRS) in Strasbourg and the Institute of Radical Chemistry (CNRS / Aix-Marseille University), sets a new benchmark for the amount of data -- stored as a sequence of molecular units (monomers) -- that may be read using this routine method. It also sets the stage for data storage on a scale 100 times smaller than that of current hard drives. The scientists' findings are published in Nature Communications on October 17, 2017.
Will hard drives one day use polymers for data storage? For several years now, researchers have faced the challenge of trying to record information with these long molecules. Polymers have great potential since, to record a bit,1 their component monomers require 100 times less space than current hard drives.
Their use could therefore dramatically reduce the size of computer storage media. Yet researchers have been thwarted in their efforts to effectively read polymer data. Now a team of CNRS and Aix-Marseille University scientists has demonstrated that a mass spectrometer may be used to read long sequences of data recorded on a molecular scale. This is a breakthrough because mass spectrometers, popular among chemists, are fast and easy to use.
To pull it off, the team used synthetic molecules, simpler to work with than natural molecules like DNA. Their structure was optimized for sequencing by mass spectrometry. The polymers are made up of two kinds of monomers (with phosphate groups)--corresponding to 0 and 1 respectively. After every eight of these monomer "bits," a molecular separator was added.
The number of bytes represented by the complete polymer equals the number of eight-bit groups. The first step in reading the encoded information is to divide the polymer into molecular bytes by snapping it apart at the separator sites; the next is to break the phosphate bonds, for sequencing of each byte.
The team of chemists managed to synthesize polymers that can store up to eight bytes. Thus, they were able to record the word "Sequence" in ASCII code, which assigns a unique byte to each letter and punctuation mark. By successfully decoding this word using mass spectrometry, they set a new record for the length of a molecule that may be read using this technique.
Although manual analysis of the digital data does take a few hours, it should be possible to reduce the time needed to a few milliseconds by developing software to perform this task. By associating short read times with current automated methods for writing data, this work paves the way for synthetic polymer storage of several kilobytes of data, roughly equivalent to a page of text -- just like the very first floppy disks.
 A byte is a segment of information consisting of eight subunits called bits. Bits, which represent the lowest level of data, can each have only one of two possible values: 0 or 1.
Alexiane Agullo | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development
21.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
Sleep as energy saving mode
21.11.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences
20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences
20.11.2017 | Life Sciences