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How DNA storage and Heidelberg Instruments MLA series go together

Lately, a Nature article inspired us to take a look at our MLA Maskless Aligner series.

The authors described a low-cost approach to DNA data storage, using photolithographic synthesis*. In principle, when using DNA data storage, information is stored by encoding binary data into the four nucleic bases of DNA. To access it, DNA is then translated into readable information by a sequencer.

In a new process developed by the authors UV light patterns were projected onto a flow cell supplied with solvents and reagents via a DMD, digital micromirror device, allowing a chemical synthesis process on a glass microscope slide to build up the DNA sequence. Synthetic DNA has a high information density, with the potential to revolutionize data storage by minimizing the required space for data storage by a thousandfold and thereby replacing conventional data centers.

DMDs in Heidelberg Instruments equipment
A digital micromirror device (DMD) is an optical micro-electrical-mechanical system (MEMS) that contains an array of highly reflective micromirrors.

Our MLA Maskless Aligners use high-speed DMD modulators as Spatial Light Modulators (SLM). An image is projected onto the substrate, when micromirrors are switched on and off while the DMD is illuminated with UV light. This process features high contrast, good efficiency at 375 to 405 nm, and a very fast data path, which allows for minimized loading times for images.

MLAs as a DNA synthesizer
Early results made public by the authors of the article mentioned above were promising in terms of information reliability, even for low-quality DNA, error correction, process restrictions, and price per synthesis.

With their properties and features it is possible that one day our MLA Maskless Aligners might be used as equipment to synthesize data into DNA by using photosynthesis. In fact, we are convinced, that they might help research and development for DNA data storage.

Who knows, maybe our Maskless Aligner MLA150 will be used for this kind of future technology?

(*specifically, the article covered an approach to low-cost DNA data storage using photolithographic synthesis and advanced information reconstruction and error correction, see source)

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