Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular motor-powered biocomputers

20.03.2017

Launch of a five-year, 6.1 M€ EU-Horizon 2020 project that aims to build a new type of powerful computer based on biomolecules, TU Dresden is participating

Crashing computers or smartphones and software security holes that allow hackers to steal millions of passwords could be prevented if it were possible to design and verify error-free software. Unfortunately, to date, this is a problem that neither engineers nor supercomputers can solve.


Network-based biocomputation.

Till Korten, Cornelia Kowol

One reason is that the computing power required to verify the correct function of a many types of software scales exponentially with the size of the program, so that processing speed, energy consumption and cooling of conventional microelectronic processors prevent current computers from verifying large programs.

The recently launched research project aims to develop a biocomputer that can overcome the two main obstacles faced by today’s supercomputers: first, they use vast amounts of electric power – so much that the development of more powerful computers is hampered primarily by limitations in the ability to cool the processors. Second, they cannot do two things at the same time.

The EU now funds a project that will develop a computer based on highly efficient molecular motors that will use a fraction of the energy of existing computers, and that can tackle problems where many solutions need to be explored simultaneously.

The potential impact of the project results is not limited to the design of error-free software: “Practically all really interesting mathematical problems of our time cannot be computed efficiently with our current computer technology.” says Dan V. Nicolau, Ph.D. M.D., from the UK-based enterprise Molecular Sense, who had the original idea of using biomolecular motors as computers.

This is the limit that the new project aims to push by using biomolecular motors as computing units: The idea is that biomolecular machines, each only a few billionth of a meter (nanometers) in size, can solve problems by moving through a nanofabricated network of channels designed to represent a mathematical algorithm (see fig. 1); an approach the scientists in the project termed “network-based biocomputation”.

Whenever the biomolecules reach a junction in the network, they either add a number to the sum they are calculating or leave it out. That way, each biomolecule acts as a tiny computer with processor and memory. While an individual biomolecule is much slower than a current computer, they are self-assembling so that they can be used in large numbers, quickly adding up their computing power. The researchers have demonstrated that this works in a recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the USA (PNAS).

"We are using molecular motors of the cell that have been optimized by a billion years of evolution to be highly energy efficient nanomachines.", says Prof. Stefan Diez who is heading the participating TU Dresden research team, “and the biological computing units can multiply themselves to adapt to the difficulty of the mathematical problem.” adds Dr. Till Korten from TU Dresden, co-coordinator of the Bio4Comp project and equally contributing first author of the PNAS publication.

The research consortium will focus on developing the technology required to scale up network-based biocomputers to a point at which they are able to compete with other alternative computing approaches such as DNA computing and quantum computing. In the process, they aim to attract a larger scientific and economic community that will focus on developing the technology into a viable alternative computing approach.

To do so, they have received 6.1 Million € from the Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) programme of the EU to run a highly interdisciplinary research project touching mathematics, biology, engineering, and computation. Of this funding, 1.1 million € will go to the research group of Stefan Diez, Professor for BioNanoTools at B CUBE, a TU Dresden research institute focusing on Molecular Bioengineering, and fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) Dresden.

The role of the group will be to modify the properties of motor proteins, such as kinesin, in order to optimize them for biocomputation, as well as to integrate them into nanofabricated devices. This work will strongly benefit from synergies and collaborations with the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed), one of the current Clusters of Excellence at TU Dresden.

“Optimizing the motors not only gives us ideal tools for nanotechnology, but at the same time we learn a great deal about how they work and what they do inside the cell.”, Diez says. These insights will be useful beyond the specific project goals, for example to elucidate the roles of these proteins in serious diseases such as cancer and dementia.

The project Bio4Comp (2017-2021) is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework program for Research and Innovation under under Grant Agreement No 732482. More information can be found on the research consortium’s webpage: www.bio4comp.eu.

Media Inquiries:
Stefan Diez, Professor for BioNanoTools
B CUBE – Center for Molecular Bioengineering
Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 351 463-43010
stefan.diez@tu-dresden.de
http://www.tu-dresden.de/bcube

Contact list of project partners:

Partner 1: Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Heiner Linke, Professor of Nanophysics; Director of NanoLund
Tel.: +46 (0) 46 222 4245
heiner.linke@ftf.lth.se
Kristina Lindgärde, Pressansvarig vid Kommunikation och Samverkan, LTH
Tel.: +46 (0) 46 222 0769
kristina.lindgarde@kansli.lth.se
http://www.nano.lu.se/

Partner 2: Linné-University Kalmar, Kalmar, Sweden
Alf Månsson, professor i fysiologi
Tel.: +46 (0) 70 886 6243
Annika Sand, pressansvarig
Tel.: +46 (0) 76 830 0105
https://lnu.se/en/research/searchresearch/the-molecular-motor-and-bionano-group/

Partner 3: Molecular Sense Ltd., Oxford, U.K.
Dan V. Nicolau, PhD. MD.
https://molecularsense.com/

Partner 4: Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel
Dr. Hillel Kugler
Tel.: +972 (0) 3 7384437
kugler.hillel@biu.ac.il
http://www.eng.biu.ac.il/hillelk/

Partner 5: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Wissenschaften e.V.

Prof. Stefan E. Schulz
Tel.: +49 (0) 371 45001-232
stefan.schulz@enas.fraunhofer.de
https://www.fraunhofer.de/

Weitere Informationen:

To PNAS paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/10/2591.full?sid=5d9e45c4-6338-461e-9c93-a74c5ca...
To web-site: http://www.bio4comp.eu

Kim-Astrid Magister | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Bioengineering PNAS Technische Universität computing power proteins

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Drones shown to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster and more accurate
17.01.2019 | Purdue University

nachricht Next generation photonic memory devices are light-written, ultrafast and energy efficient
15.01.2019 | Eindhoven University of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Additive manufacturing reflects fundamental metallurgical principles to create materials

18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

How molecules teeter in a laser field

18.01.2019 | Life Sciences

The cytoskeleton of neurons has been found to be involved in Alzheimer's disease

18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>