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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DNA as the future of silicon chips?

In a single day, a solitary graduate student at a lab bench can produce more simple logic circuits than the world's entire output of silicon chips in a month. So says a Duke University engineer, who believes that the next generation of these logic circuits at the heart of computers will be produced inexpensively in almost limitless quantities in a story at Nanowerk.
In his latest set of experiments, Chris Dwyer, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, demonstrated that by simply mixing customized snippets of DNA and other molecules, he could create literally billions of identical, tiny, waffle-looking structures (left). Dwyer has shown that these nanostructures will efficiently self-assemble, and when different light-sensitive molecules are added to the mixture, the waffles exhibit unique and "programmable" properties that can be readily tapped. Using light to excite these molecules, known as chromophores, he can create simple logic gates, or switches. 

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