Mulberry planting, silkworm rearing, silk weaving. In the future, the hard disk that our computers will use may not be a semiconductor, nor a group of E.coli, but from a cocoon. Chinese scientists have developed the world’s first natural biological protein hard disk memory, silk hard disk. A hard disk made of silk can not only store information, but also hold things, such as blood samples, DNA, vaccines, and even implanted organisms.

on August 10, Tao Hu, a researcher and doctoral supervisor of Shanghai Institute of microsystems and information technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and director of 2020 frontier Laboratory of Shanghai Institute of microsystems and information technology, Tao Hu, one of the main authors of the study, told surging news that silk hard disk can simultaneously store digital information and life information; it has good biological compatibility and can be implanted into living organisms, such as human body, for a long time It can be preserved or even permanently preserved. Like the nameplates worn by soldiers in the film, it can be made into a life plate that will never be lost; it can also be made into time capsules with controllable life, which can be degraded and disappeared under control. It is expected to preserve information in extreme conditions such as outer space.

Tao Hu said that for silk hard disk, the plot of using microwave oven to destroy hard disk in Hollywood spy film may be rewritten, because this hard disk is not afraid of strong magnetic field and radiation. After 30 minutes of high temperature in the microwave oven, the information in the silk hard disk is still “safe and sound”. At present, the storage capacity of silk hard disk has reached 64GB per square inch, equivalent to 0.5tb.

Tao Hu’s research group, together with the related research groups of State University of New York at Stony Brook and University of Texas at Austin, has realized the high-capacity biological storage technology based on silk protein for the first time.

on August 11, relevant papers were published online in the form of long articles in the internationally renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology. With this technology, the research team has realized the principle verification of accurate recording, storage and “reading” of images and audio files such as “silkworm leaf eating map”, “hollow birdsong song”.

according to Tao Hu, after silk protein is made into a hard disk, the information that people want to store can be written into the near-field infrared nano lithography system and read by the same system. By changing the energy of writing light, the morphology of the processing map on silk protein can be adjusted, such as convex or concave, so as to achieve in-situ repeated erasing. This access principle is similar to CD or DVD disc storage technology.

Professor Liu mengkun, co-author of the paper, said that the near-field optical technology based on AFM provides the possibility of in-situ processing and characterization of biomaterials at the nanoscale. In order to achieve the purpose of information storage and reading, the silk protein was modified by focusing the infrared light at a very small scale through the nano needle tip. In the future, it has the potential to achieve comparable storage density and read-write speed of commercial hard disk memory by combining multi probe parallel processing technology and fast moving platform.

Tao Hu said that silk protein memory, as a new storage technology with high capacity and high reliability, can not only store digital information like ordinary semiconductor hard disks, but also provide a platform with huge functions for active biological information storage, which can be used to collect and store biological information, as well as store human DNA and blood samples. And this kind of memory can be destroyed according to the preset time sequence, so it can be used for information confidentiality. In addition, because silk protein memory is easy to be functionalized with various functional molecules, the dimension of information storage can be increased. In the future, with the continuous optimization and improvement of the storage capacity and read-write rate of silk protein memory, this technology is expected to become the next generation of high-capacity, highly reliable information storage technology.

8500 years ago, the earliest silk products in the world appeared in China. It may be hard for the ancients to imagine that silk could be used as a hard disk as well as satin and cheongsam.

silk hard disk is a new achievement of Tao Hu’s research team. In 2018, they also published a paper in the international academic journal advanced materials to make silk into a biodegradable “bone nail” with controllable degradation rate. From a silk quilt with a price of more than 1000 yuan and a silk quilt made with 5 kg of silk, to a set of silk protein bone nails worth about 10000 yuan with 0.5g cocoon, the ancient silkworm industry is expected to join the biological medicine industry with high technology and high added value.

Tao Hu also revealed that according to the genealogy, he was the descendant of Tao Yuanming. In addition to the literary works such as the story of the peach blossom garden and the poem of returning home, the silk hard disk is a new contribution of the poet Tao Yuanming’s family in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Skip to content