Computer memory grown using bacteria.
Researchers at the University of Leeds have demonstrated a way to grow memory chips using genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria. With memory traditionally being produced in specialized fabs costing around $10 billion each, the new method could prove to be a much cheaper alternative.
The E. Coli was modified to make it produce a form of Magnetospirillum magneticum, which is a bacterium containing flecks of the iron oxide Magnetite. A block of gold was dipped in the solution, before being dunked into iron salts. This led magnetite grains to form on the block, which in principle could be used to store a bit of information, depending on the polarity of the magnetite.
The next steps for researchers will be to figure out how to make the magnetite into a strong enough magnet to store information, and to scale down the process to make it competitive with traditional memory, both in physical size and storage capacity - both challenges the team believe can be overcome.