DNA-based programmable circuits can be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make. In a new research paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, an international group of scientists announced the most significant breakthrough in a decade toward developing DNA-based electrical circuits. The central technological revolution of the 20th century was the development of computers, leading to the communication and Internet era. The main measure of this evolution is miniaturization: making our machines smaller. A computer with the memory of the average laptop today was the size of a tennis court in the 1970s. Yet while scientists made great strides in reducing of the size of individual computer components through microelectronics, they have been less successful at reducing the distance between transistors, the main element of our computers. These spaces between transistors have been much more challenging and extremely expensive to miniaturize – an obstacle that limits the future development of computers.
Molecular electronics, which uses molecules as building blocks for the fabrication of electronic components, was seen as the ultimate solution to the miniaturization challenge. Nevertheless, so far no one has been able to demonstrate reliably and quantitatively the flow of electrical current through long DNA molecules.
Now, an international group led by Prof. Danny Porath, the Etta and Paul Schankerman Professor in Molecular Biomedicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reports reproducible and quantitative measurements of electricity flow through long molecules made of four DNA strands, signaling a significant breakthrough towards the development of DNA-based electrical circuits.