Csaba Andras Moritz, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the director of the Nanoscale Architectures Laboratory, was featured prominently in a story in Popular Mechanics about how scientists are developing ways of storing data using synthetic DNA. As the Popular Mechanics story explains, scientists in Nature report that they have converted a record number of digital megabytes into genetic code. The entire set of Shakespearean sonnets, a 26-second clip of Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, a photograph—they’ve all been recorded onto synthetic DNA, where they could be safely stored for thousands of years. But, as the article says, “don’t start shopping around for a DNA hard drive yet. It takes a lot of time to both write and read DNA sequences, and it also requires laboratory equipment.”
A DNA library wouldn’t be searchable or accessible online, says Moritz in the article. "This only has an application in archiving material that you don’t need to access often. You cannot use DNA for general-purpose storage."
In the Popular Mechanics article, Moritz points out that Flash, phase-change memory (PCM), and spin-transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM) are all significantly cheaper than DNA storage and conveniently communicate with computers, so they could create archives that are accessible online. But the memory spans of these technologies are measured in tens of years, rather than hundreds or thousands, and they’d have to be rewritten every decade or so to maintain fidelity—not ideal for long-term storage.
The research focus of Professor Moritz and his group is on post-CMOS nanoscale fabrics and associated models of computation, based on emerging device (nanowire, spintronics, graphene, etc) and novel nanomanufacturing paradigms.
“We do experimental (cleanroom) work in addition to cross-layer (device-circuit-fabric) theoretical explorations,” he says on his website. “We recently demonstrated experimentally N3ASIC nanofabric components and junctionless depletion-mode xnwFET cross-point devices at sub 30nm scale.” Professor Moritz is working on several other exciting nanoscale approaches that naturally lend themselves to realize unconventional computing such as Bayesian networks, neuromorphic computing, and high-order (beyond binary) logic designs.
His other technical interest is in security. He founded BlueRISC Inc in 2002, a company that develops anti-tamper security processors and solutions. WindowsSCOPE, another of his recent initiatives, targets cyber security and forensics tools. (February 2013)