Photon-directed multiplexed enzymatic DNA synthesis for molecular digital data storage

Howon Lee, Daniel J. Wiegand, Kettner Griswold, Sukanya Punthambaker, Honggu Chun, Richie E. Kohman, George M. Church

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


New storage technologies are needed to keep up with the global demands of data generation. DNA is an ideal storage medium due to its stability, information density and ease-of-readout with advanced sequencing techniques. However, progress in writing DNA is stifled by the continued reliance on chemical synthesis methods. The enzymatic synthesis of DNA is a promising alternative, but thus far has not been well demonstrated in a parallelized manner. Here, we report a multiplexed enzymatic DNA synthesis method using maskless photolithography. Rapid uncaging of Co2+ ions by patterned UV light activates Terminal deoxynucleotidyl Transferase (TdT) for spatially-selective synthesis on an array surface. Spontaneous quenching of reactions by the diffusion of excess caging molecules confines synthesis to light patterns and controls the extension length. We show that our multiplexed synthesis method can be used to store digital data by encoding 12 unique DNA oligonucleotide sequences with video game music, which is equivalent to 84 trits or 110 bits of data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5246
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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