IBM Scientists pioneer method for DNA-based microchips

August 17, 2009

(ChattahBox)–Scientists at the IBM Alameda research facility in San Jose, California, have found a way to create a new generation of tiny microchips that use DNA to achieve potentially revolutionary advances in computing.

Created in conjunction with the California Institute of Technology, the discovery uses strands of DNA and carbon nanotubes – microscopic cylinders constructed from carbon molecules are used to create tiny “DNA origami” to self-organize microchips on silicon.

They believe could eventually replace the current standards for creating electrical circuits using silicon wafers.  The origami can be designed to serve as a scaffold for electronic components just six billionths of a meter apart, allowing for chips with components closer together leading to smaller devices and faster computers.  Normally, however, DNA origami is formed in solution and uncontrolled deposition results in random arrangements rather than the predictable and repetitive patterns needed to build microcircuitry.
But in a paper published in the Nature Nanotechnology journal, the team suggested a way to overcome this problem that could potentially make it possible to manufacture smaller, faster chips much more cheaply.

The scientists used electron-beam lithography and an etching process to create DNA origami-shaped “binding sites” on silicon and other materials used in chipmaking.  If the DNA origami process scales to production-level, manufacturers could save hundreds of millions of dollars in complex tools, but the new processes are probably at least 10 years out.


One Response to “IBM Scientists pioneer method for DNA-based microchips”

  1. Chris R on August 17th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Who knows? This could be the next jump in human evolution. Can someone please stick me in a cryogenics machine and wake me when we get there?

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