DNA, the genetic material of life, may help engineers build faster, cheaper computer chips by forming specific shapes through a process reminiscent of the ancient art of paper folding, researchers report. “We would like to use DNA’s very small size, base-pairing capabilities and ability to self-assemble, and direct it to make nanoscale structures that could be used for electronics,” said Adam T Woolley, professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University. Also Read - National Science Day: Top 5 AR apps available on Apple's App Store to learn scienceAlso Read - Facebook for Android will soon get dark mode and coronavirus tracking feature
The smallest features on chips currently produced by electronics manufacturers are 14 nanometers wide. That is more than 10 times larger than the diameter of single stranded DNA, meaning that this genetic material could form the basis for smaller-scale chips. “The problem, however, is that DNA does not conduct electricity very well. So we use the DNA as a scaffold and then assemble other materials on the DNA to form electronics,” Woolley explained. To design computer chips similar in function to those that Silicon Valley churns out, Woolley is building on other groups’ prior work on DNA origami and DNA nano fabrication.