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
Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences