DNA-enabled integrated molecular systems for computation and sensing.
CONSPECTUS: Nucleic acids have become powerful building blocks for creating supramolecular nanostructures with a variety of new and interesting behaviors. The predictable and guided folding of DNA, inspired by nature, allows designs to manipulate molecular-scale processes unlike any other material system. Thus, DNA can be co-opted for engineered and purposeful ends. This Account details a small portion of what can be engineered using DNA within the context of computer architectures and systems. Over a decade of work at the intersection of DNA nanotechnology and computer system design has shown several key elements and properties of how to harness the massive parallelism created by DNA self-assembly. This work is presented, naturally, from the bottom-up beginning with early work on strand sequence design for deterministic, finite DNA nanostructure synthesis. The key features of DNA nanostructures are explored, including how the use of small DNA motifs assembled in a hierarchical manner enables full-addressability of the final nanostructure, an important property for building dense and complicated systems. A full computer system also requires devices that are compatible with DNA self-assembly and cooperate at a higher level as circuits patterned over many, many replicated units. Described here is some work in this area investigating nanowire and nanoparticle devices, as well as chromophore-based circuits called resonance energy transfer (RET) logic. The former is an example of a new way to bring traditional silicon transistor technology to the nanoscale, which is increasingly problematic with current fabrication methods. RET logic, on the other hand, introduces a framework for optical computing at the molecular level. This Account also highlights several architectural system studies that demonstrate that even with low-level devices that are inferior to their silicon counterparts and a substrate that harbors abundant defects, self-assembled systems can still outperform conventional systems. Further, the domain, that is, the physical environment, in which such self-assembled computers can operate transcends the usual limitations of silicon machines and opens up new and exciting horizons for their application. This Account also includes a look at simulation tools developed to streamline the design process at the strand, device, circuit, and architectural levels. These tools are essential for understanding how to best manipulate the devices into systems that explore the fundamentally new computing domains enabled by DNA nanotechnology.
LaBoda, C; Duschl, H; Dwyer, CL
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