The idea of using DNA molecules – the material genes are made of – to perform computations is not new; scientists have been working on it for over a decade. DNA has the ability to store much more data than conventional silicon-based computers, as well as the potential to perform calculations in a biological environment – inside a live cell, for example. But while the technology holds much promise, it is still limited in terms of the ability to control when and where particular computations occur.
Dr. Alex Deiters, associate professor of chemistry at NC State, developed a method for controlling a logic gate within a DNA-based computing system. Logic gates are the means by which computers “compute,” as sets of them are combined in different ways to enable the computer to ultimately perform tasks like addition or subtraction. In DNA computing, these gates are created by combinations of different strands of DNA, rather than by a series of transistors. The drawback is that DNA computation events normally take place in a test tube, where the sequence of computation events cannot be easily controlled with spatial and temporal resolution. So while DNA logic gates can and do work, no one can tell them when or where to work, making it difficult to create sequences of computational events.
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Deiters addressed the control problem by making portions of the input strands of DNA logic gates photoactivatable, or controllable by ultraviolet (UV) light. The process is known as photocaging. Deiters successfully photocaged several different nucleotides on a DNA logic gate known as an AND gate. When UV light was applied to the gate, it was activated and completed its computational event, showing that photoactivatable logic gates offer an effective solution to the “when and where” issues of DNA-based logic gate control.
Deiters hopes that using light to control DNA logic gates will give researchers the ability not only to create more complicated, sequential DNA computations, but also to create interfaces between silicon and DNA-based computers.
“Since the DNA gates are activated by light, it should be possible to trigger a DNA computation event by converting electrical impulses from a silicon-based computer into light, allowing the interaction of electrical circuits and biological systems,” Deiters says. “Being able to control these DNA events both temporally and spatially gives us a variety of new ways to program DNA computers.”
Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.
“DNA Computation: A Photochemically Controlled AND Gate”Authors: Alex Prokup, James Hemphill, and Alexander Deiters, North Carolina State University
Published: Online in the Journal of the American Chemical SocietyAbstract:
Tracey Peake | Newswise Science News
Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
24.01.2017 | Universität Basel
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering