Israeli scientists, in collaboration with researchers from around the world, have developed DNA strands capable of carrying charges for DNA-based electrical circuits, according to a paper published this week on the Nature Nanotechnology website.
Researchers have described the team's work as the greatest breakthrough in DNA-based electrical circuits in the last ten years. National Geographic called it "a giant step in DNA computing."
As a result of the research, circuits based on the genetic structure of all living beings and providing processors significantly faster than current technology could soon become a reality.
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According to National Geographic, "Israeli scientists have devised a computer that can perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC."
The international group involved in the research was led by Prof. Danny Porath of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while the molecules were produced by a group led by Alexander Kotlyar of Tel Aviv University. The research was carried out in collaboration with groups from Denmark, Spain, the U.S., Italy and Cyprus.
"This research paves the way for implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics, which could lead to a new generation of computer circuits that can be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make," Porath said.
Explaining the research, National Geographic wrote: "Think of DNA as software, and enzymes as hardware. Put them together in a test tube. The way in which these molecules undergo chemical reactions with each other allows simple operations to be performed as a byproduct of the reactions. The scientists tell the devices what to do by controlling the composition of the DNA software molecules. It's a completely different approach to pushing electrons around a dry circuit in a conventional computer."
This research could bring DNA back to the forefront of research in materials science. If transistors made of genetic code are formed into a processor, it could herald a new age of microelectronics. By bringing the microscopic transistors close together, additional circuits could fit on a chip, allowing parallel processing and increasing system speed.