Chemists of Jena University let fluorescent sugar sensors ‘calculate’
In a chemistry lab at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany): Prof. Dr. Alexander Schiller works at a rectangular plastic board with 384 small wells. The chemist carefully pipets some drops of sugar solution into a row of the tiny reaction vessels.
Chemist Martin Elstner and his colleagues of Jena University use sugar molecules for information processing.
photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU
As soon as the fluid has mixed with the contents of the vessels, fluorescence starts in some of the wells. What the Junior Professor for Photonic Materials does here – with his own hands – could also be called in a very simplified way, the ‘sweetest computer in the world’. The reason: the sugar molecules Schiller uses are part of a chemical sequence for information processing.
The chemist of Jena University and his two postgraduate students, Martin Elstner and Jörg Axthelm recently described in the new edition of the science journal ’Angewandte Chemie International Edition’ how they developed a molecular computer on the basis of sugar (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201403769).
“The binary logic which makes a conventional computer chip work is based on simple yes/no-decisions,” Professor Schiller explains. “There is either electricity flowing between both poles of an electric conductor or there isn’t.” These potential differences are being coded as “0“ and “1“ and can be linked via logic gates – the Boolean operators like AND, OR, NOT. In this way, a number of different starting signals and complex circuits are possible.
These logic links however can also be realized with the help of chemical substances, as the Jena chemists were able to show. For their ‘sugar computer’ they use several components: One fluorescent dye and a so-called fluorescence quencher. “If there are both components involved, the colorant can’t display its impact and we don’t see a fluorescence signal," Schiller says.
But if sugar molecules are involved, the fluorescence quencher reacts with the sugar and thus loses its capability to suppress the fluorescence signal, which makes the dye fluorescent. Depending on whether the dye, the fluorescence quencher and the sugar are on hand to give the signal, a fluorescent signal results – “1” – or no signal – “0”.
“We link chemical reactions with computer algorithms in our system in order to process complex information,” Martin Elstner explains. “If a fluorescence signal is registered, the algorithm determines what goes into the reaction vessel next.” In this way signals are not translated and processed in a current flow, like in a computer but in a flow of matter.
That their chemical processing platform works, Schiller and his staff demonstrated in the current study with the sample calculation 10 + 15. “It took our sugar computer about 40 minutes, but the result was correct,“ Prof. Schiller says smiling, and clarifies:
“It is not our aim to develop a chemical competition to established computer chips.” The chemist rather sees the field of application in medical diagnostics. So it is for instance conceivable to connect the chemical analysis of several parameters of blood and urine samples via the molecular logic platform for a final diagnosis and thus enable decisions for therapies.
Elstner M, Axthelm J, Schiller A. „Sugar-based molecular computing via material implication”, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition 2014, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201403769; German version: Elstner M, Axthelm J, Schiller A. „Zucker-basierter molekularer Rechner mit Implikationslogik”, Angewandte Chemie 2014, DOI: 10.1002/ange.201403769.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Schiller
Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Humboldtstraße 8, 07743 Jena
Phone: ++49 3641 948113
Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
How to construct a protein factory
19.09.2019 | Universität Bern
Quality Control in Cells
19.09.2019 | Universität Heidelberg
To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.
Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
19.09.2019 | Event News
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
19.09.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2019 | Event News