DNA synthesis platform for long term data storage

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DNA synthesis nanotechnology

DNA has been proposed as a stable medium for long term data storage(1). Information can be encoded in a succession of nucleotides with high density that can be assembled in situ using optical or electrochemical techniques. Current DNA synthesis methods generally rely on phosphoramidite chemistry, which is relatively slow, inefficient, expensive and not readily amenable for miniaturization (2)
Novel approaches make use of enzymes, such as the Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), which can efficiently add nucleotides to existing DNA strands in an aqueous environment. However, controlling the rate of nucleotide addition in vitro, remains challenging(3). In this master thesis, the candidate will explore new methods to locally control the chemical environment required to trigger enzymatic reactions using optical and/or electrochemical means. 
The project particularly focuses on the development of new materials capable of storing and releasing ions on demand to control enzyme activity and the early demonstration of their performance towards the realization of a prototype system for DNA synthesis. Consequently, the student will be involved in the full fabrication and characterization of the material and testing for enzymatic control and will encounter a wide range of experimental techniques, including electrochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, surface functionalization, enzymology and micro- and nano-electrode fabrication. 
For this master’s thesis, imec is searching for a highly motivated student that is eager to expand their knowledge of electrochemistry, surface chemistry and enzymology in a nanotechnological setting. 
The student will be working within the context of an existing project, together with an international team of interdisciplinary researchers. Hence, the ability to communicate fluently in English (spoken and written) is highly recommended. We encourage interestedstudents to contact us for more information on the technical aspects ofthe topic.
1. Ceze, L., Nivala, J. & Strauss, K. Molecular digital data storage using DNA. Nat. Rev. Genet. (2019). doi:10.1038/s41576-019-0125-3 
2. Hughes, R. A. & Ellington, A. D. Synthetic DNA synthesis and assembly: Putting the synthetic in synthetic biology. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 9, (2017). 
3. Lee, H. H., Kalhor, R., Goela, N., Bolot, J. & Church, G. M. Terminator-free template-independent enzymatic DNA synthesis for digital information storage. Nat. Commun. 10, 2383 (2019). med



Type of project: Thesis


Duration: 6 months

Required degree: Master of Engineering Technology, Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science, Master of Bioengineering

Required background: Bioscience Engineering

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Olivier Henry (Olivier.Henry@imec.be) and Kherim Willems (Kherim.Willems@imec.be)

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