Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA used to create self-assembling nano transistor

21.11.2003


Breakthrough proves possible to use biology to create electronics



Scientists at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have harnessed the power of DNA to create a self-assembling nanoscale transistor, the building block of electronics. The research, published in the Nov. 21, 2003 issue of Science, is a crucial step in the development of nanoscale devices.

Erez Braun, lead scientist on the project and associate professor in the Faculty Physics at the Technion, says science has been intrigued with the idea of using biology to build electronic transistors that assemble without human manipulation. However, until now, demonstrating it in the lab has remained elusive. "This paper shows you can start with DNA proteins and molecular biology and construct an electronic device," he said.


"Erez Braun and his colleague Uri Sivan are some of the few pioneers in this field," said Horst Stormer, professor in Columbia University’s Departments of Physics and Applied Physics and scientific director of the Nano Science and Engineering Centers. "This is outstanding research in the area that matters most in nano technology: self-assembly."

To get the transistors to self assemble, the Technion research team attached a carbon nanotube -- known for its extraordinary electronic properties -- onto a specific site on a DNA strand, and then made metal nanowires out of DNA molecules at each end of the nanotube. The device is a transistor that can be switched on and off by applying voltage to it.

The carbon nanotubes used in the experiment are only one nanometer, or a billionth of a meter, across. In computing technology, as scientists reach the limits of working with silicon, carbon nanotubes are widely recognized as the next step in squeezing an increasing number of transistors onto a chip, vastly increasing computer speed and memory. Braun emphasized that computers are only one application; these transistors may, for example, enable the creation of any number of devices in future applications, such as tiny sensors to perform diagnostic tests in healthcare.

Though transistors made from carbon nanotubes have already been built, those required labor-intensive fabrication. The goal is to have these nanocircuits self-assemble, enabling large-scale manufacturing of nanoscale electronics.

DNA, according to Braun, is a natural place to look for a tool to create these circuits. "But while DNA by itself is a very good self-assembling building block, it doesn’t conduct electrical current," he noted.

To overcome these challenges, the researchers manipulated strands of DNA to add bacteria protein to a segment of the DNA. They then added certain protein molecules to the test tube, along with protein-coated carbon nanotubes. These proteins naturally bond together, causing the carbon nanotube to bind to the DNA strand at the bacteria protein.

Finally, they created tiny metal nanowires by coating DNA molecules with gold. In this step, the bacteria protein served another purpose: it prevented the metal from coating the bacteria-coated DNA segment, creating extending gold nanowires only at the ends of the DNA strand.

The goal, Braun explained, was to create a circuit. However, "at this point, the carbon nanotube is located on a segment of DNA, with metal nanowires at either end. Theoretically, one challenge here would be to encourage the nanotube to line up parallel to the DNA strand, meet the nanowires at either end, and thus make a circuit.

"There are some points where nature smiles upon you, and this was one of those points," Braun continued. "Carbon nanotubes are naturally rigid structures, and the protein coating makes the DNA strand rigid as well. The two rigid rods will align parallel to each other, thus making an ideal DNA-nanotube construct."

"In a nutshell, what this does is create a self-assembling carbon nanotube circuit," he concluded.

Scientists controlled the creation of transistors by regulating voltage to the substrate. Out of 45 nanoscale devices created in three batches, almost a third emerged as self-assembled transistors.

Braun added, however, that while this research demonstrates the feasibility of harnessing biology as a framework to construct electronics, creating working electronics from self-assembling carbon nanotube transistors is still in the future.

Braun conducted the research with colleagues Kinneret Keren, Rotem S. Berman, Evgeny Buchstab, and Uri Sivan.


To speak with Professor Erez Braun, contact Kevin Hattori at kevin@ats.org or 212-407-6319.
To request papers, contact the AAAS Office of Public Programs at scipak@aaas.org, or call 202-326-6440.

Kevin Hattori | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.technion.ac.il/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Producing electricity during flight
20.09.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene
19.09.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>