The DNA molecule--nature’s premier data storage material--may hold the key for the information technology industry as it faces demands for more compact data processing and storage circuitry. A team led by Richard Kiehl, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, has used DNA’s ability to assemble itself into predetermined patterns to construct a synthetic DNA scaffolding with regular, closely spaced docking sites that can direct the assembly of circuits for processing or storing data. The scaffolding has the potential to self-assemble components 1,000 times as densely as the best information processing circuitry and 100 times the best data storage circuitry now in the pipeline. Members of the team first published their innovation in 2003, and they have now refined the technique to allow more efficient and more versatile assembly of components. The new work, which was a collaborative effort with chemistry professors Karin Musier-Forsyth and T. Andrew Taton at Minnesota and Nadrian C. Seeman at New York University, is reported in the December issue of Nano Letters, a publication of the American Chemical Society.
"There’s a need for programmability and precision on the scale of a nanometer--a billionth of a meter--in the manufacture of high-density nanoelectronic circuitry," said Kiehl. "With DNA scaffolding, we have the potential for arranging components with a precision of one-third of a nanometer.
"In a standard silicon-based chip, information processing is limited by the distance between units that process and store information. With DNA scaffolding, we can lay out devices closely, so the interconnects are very short and the performance very high."
Deane Morrison | EurekAlert!
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