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article imageMaking better computer chip with 'DNA origami'

By Tim Sandle     Mar 14, 2016 in Technology
Faster and cheaper computer chips are one of the drivers within the technology sector. One way to achieve this is by shrinking component sizes. For this, one research group have been looking at DNA.
DNA — or deoxyribonucleic acid — is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. This information comes tightly packed into a double helix.
Technologists have been looking into how compacting the genetic code into such a structure could be used with the design of computer chips. In a research note, Dr. Adam Woolley, who led a recent research team looking into the concept, said: “We would like to use DNA’s very small size, base-pairing capabilities and ability to self-assemble, and direct it to make nanoscale structures that could be used for electronics.”
By using DNA, the technologist is referring to studies where DNA has been used as a scaffold and then assemble other materials on the DNA to form electronics. This is precise work, taking place at the nanoscale level. Here the latest computer chips are around ten times the size of DNA.
To create the bio-scaffold, the researchers took a long single strand of DNA, which is a flexible structure, and mixed this with many other short strands of DNA (termed “staples”), which use base pairing to crosslink certain segments of the long strand to form a desired shape.
To build a three-dimensional structure suitable for a silicon chip, the researchers further developed a tube-shaped DNA origami structure that resembles a chimney. This was composed from silicon and this became the bottom layer of the computer chip.
Various attempts have succeeded in short strands of DNA to fasten other components like nano-sized gold particles at specific sites on the inside of the tube. In turn, the gold particles can be linked with semiconductor nanowires to form a circuit.
The research has yet to be published. However, a concept paper was recently presented at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
More about Computer chips, Dna, Bioscaffolding, Origami
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