IBM researchers have found a way of using DNA molecules to create tiny, more energy-efficient computer chips.
Scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a technique for building microchips using artificial DNA nanostructures, or ‘DNA origami’, as a framework.
The technique involves arranging pieces of genetic material into patterns similar to those used in current semiconductor technology. Tiny components, such as carbon nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles, are then inserted into the DNA scaffold to build microchips several times smaller than traditionally made chips.
The theory behind IBM and Caltech’s research is that the smaller, DNA-based chips will be faster, more energy-efficient and cheaper.
“The cost involved in shrinking features to improve performance is a limiting factor… and a concern across the semiconductor industry,” said Spike Narayan, manager of science and technology at IBM Research. “The combination of this directed self-assembly with today’s fabrication technology eventually could lead to substantial savings in the most expensive and challenging part of the chip-making process.”