The next step in DNA computing: GPS mapping?

May 6, 2015, American Chemical Society
The next step in DNA computing: GPS mapping?

Conventional silicon-based computing, which has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent decades, is pushing against its practical limits. DNA computing could help take the digital era to the next level. Scientists are now reporting progress toward that goal with the development of a novel DNA-based GPS. They describe their advance in ACS' The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

Jian-Jun Shu and colleagues note that Moore's law, which marked its 50th anniversary in April, posited that the number of transistors on a chip would double every year. This doubling has enabled smartphone and tablet technology that has revolutionized computing, but continuing the pattern will come with high costs. In search of a more affordable way forward, scientists are exploring the use of DNA for its programmability, fast processing speeds and tiny size. So far, they have been able to store and process information with the genetic material and perform basic computing tasks. Shu's team set out to take the next step.

The researchers built a programmable DNA-based processor that performs two computing tasks at the same time. On a map of six locations and multiple possible paths, it calculated the shortest routes between two different starting points and two destinations. The researchers say that in addition to cost- and time-savings over other DNA-based computers, their system could help scientists understand how the brain's "internal GPS" works.

Explore further: The next computer: your genes

More information: "Programmable DNA-Mediated Multitasking Processor" J. Phys. Chem. B, 2015, 119 (17), pp 5639–5644. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b02165

Abstract
Because of DNA appealing features as perfect material, including minuscule size, defined structural repeat and rigidity, programmable DNA-mediated processing is a promising computing paradigm, which employs DNAs as information storing and processing substrates to tackle the computational problems. The massive parallelism of DNA hybridization exhibits transcendent potential to improve multitasking capabilities and yield a tremendous speed-up over the conventional electronic processors with stepwise signal cascade. As an example of multitasking capability, we present an in vitro programmable DNA-mediated optimal route planning processor as a functional unit embedded in contemporary navigation systems. The novel programmable DNA-mediated processor has several advantages over the existing silicon-mediated methods, such as conducting massive data storage and simultaneous processing via much fewer materials than conventional silicon devices.

Related Stories

The next computer: your genes

May 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- "Human beings are more or less like a computer," Jian-Jun Shu tells PhysOrg.com. "We do computing work, and our DNA can be used in computing operations." Shu is a professor at the School of Mechanical and ...

Silicon Valley marks 50 years of Moore's Law

April 24, 2015

Computers were the size of refrigerators when an engineer named Gordon Moore laid the foundations of Silicon Valley with a vision that became known as "Moore's Law."

Scientists develop advanced biological computer

May 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —Using only biomolecules (such as DNA and enzymes), scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed and constructed an advanced biological transducer, a computing machine capable of manipulating ...

Recommended for you

Targeting 'hidden pocket' for treatment of stroke and seizure

January 19, 2019

The ideal drug is one that only affects the exact cells and neurons it is designed to treat, without unwanted side effects. This concept is especially important when treating the delicate and complex human brain. Now, scientists ...

Artificially produced cells communicate with each other

January 18, 2019

Friedrich Simmel and Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, ...

Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria

January 18, 2019

More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas, which is why access to clean water is one of the National Academy ...

Hand-knitted molecules

January 18, 2019

Molecules are usually formed in reaction vessels or laboratory flasks. An Empa research team has now succeeded in producing molecules between two microscopically small, movable gold tips – in a sense as a "hand-knitted" ...

This computer program makes pharma patents airtight

January 17, 2019

Routes to making life-saving medications and other pharmaceutical compounds are among the most carefully protected trade secrets in global industry. Building on recent work programming computers to identify synthetic pathways ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Osiris1
not rated yet May 07, 2015
We people are made of DNA and we tend to forget. A LOT! Maybe that DNA will tooooooo.
Returners
not rated yet May 07, 2015
We people are made of DNA and we tend to forget. A LOT! Maybe that DNA will tooooooo.


Forgetting is a good thing for a sentient being. Not so good for a mechanical tool.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.