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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, 2006/10/11 - The ability to truly integrate molecular components remains crucial for the construction of next-generation molecular devices. Researchers have now succeeded in building a medium- scale integrated molecular circuit.
DNA computing is a form of computing which uses DNA and molecular biology instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. Molecular computation is currently focused on building molecular networks analogous to electrical engineering designs. These networks consist of logic gates, which perform Boolean logical operations such as AND, NOT, and OR on one or more inputs to produce an output. While individual molecular gates and small networks have previously been constructed, these gates are yet to be integrated at higher levels of complexity. Such integration in electrical engineering arises from massive parallelism and interconnections, rather than fundamental component complexity. The ability to truly integrate molecular components remains crucial for the construction of next-generation molecular devices. Researchers have now succeeded in building a medium- scale integrated molecular circuit, integrating 128 deoxyribozyme-based logic gates, 32 input DNA molecules, and 8 two-channel fluorescent outputs across 8 wells.
Automata are self-operating machines, or robots, that are able to analyze a series of "inputs" in a meaningful fashion. Researchers at Columbia University and the University of New Mexico are exploring DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) as a medium for building automata on a molecular scale.
"The significance of this is similar to the significance of early silicon chips and semi-conductors" says Joanne Macdonald, a virologist and molecular biologist in the Division of Experimental Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University. "By using these integrated gates to play tic-tac-toe we show that large-scale, higher level, computing using molecular logic gates is now a reality, and that even larger molecular computers are feasible."
Game playing is often used as an unbiased test of new computation media. Macdonald and her colleagues have focused on tic-tac-toe: one of the simplest games of perfect information, and yet a surprisingly complex combinatorial problem, with 2.65 x 10103 non-losing strategies for a complete version of tic-tac-toe.
Macdonald explained to Nanowerk that they previously constructed a deoxyribozyme-based molecular automaton (MAYA, a molecular array of YES and AND gates) that plays a simplified symmetry-pruned game of tic-tac-toe encompassing 19 permissible game plays, using an array of 23 logic gates distributed over 8 wells.
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By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk, LLC