By 2020, the amount of digital data produced will total 40 trillion gigabytes! Yet that mind-blowing amount of information can be crammed into just 82 grams of DNA.

For that, we can thank Professor Olgica Milenkovic and the many other researchers who have made DNA data storage a reality. Milenkovic, who is based out of the University of Illinois, believes that DNA-based storage will be the primary storage mechanism of many archival systems in the near future.

“The media is extremely durable and has exceptionally high storage density,” she says.

Exceptional is a bit of an understatement. While the hard drives of many desktop computers sold today can store one terabyte of information, two years ago, researchers at Harvard created a technique that could store 700 terabytes on a single gram of DNA.

Just last week, however, Milenkovic and her team detailed a new system capable of storing 490 exabytes on a single gram, which is equal to 490 billion gigabytes!