We all know we have the power to make the world a bit greener – and many feel that includes messing with DNA for environmental improvements, or just better efficiency for our gadgets. Now there’s new hope that DNA could play a major role in making computers run with little or no external power.
Researchers at the
As Ruchi Mallya, an analyst on the use of technology in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology with Datamonitor, explains, such computers are constructed using DNA as software and enzymes as hardware, rather than traditional silicon-based components. This could then hopefully be the start of a new kind of external biological information storage system.
DNA molecules are similar to computer hard drives: they save information about an individual’s genes, but they have one advantage in that they have the potential to perform calculations faster than any man-made computers. The computer on which you’re reading this article is using nowhere near as many simultaneous actions as your DNA molecules required to make reading this article possible.
“In addition, unlike today's PCs, DNA computers require minimal or no external power sources as they run on internal energy produced during cellular reactions,” says Mallya. “There is a huge amount of potential for a computer that does not need to be plugged in the implications this has for laptops and true mobility are endless.”
The goal is to one day integrate DNA into a computer chip to create a biochip. That will make standard computers faster and more energy efficient. “DNA computers could potentially be the future of green IT,” she says. Research team leader Masahiko Inouye says the findings could lead to improvements in gene therapy, futuristic nano-sized computers and other high-tech advances. Already DNA has been harnessed to create simple electronic circuits but the University of Toyama scientists have taken it one step further by stitching together four entirely new artificial DNA.
Mallya says there are still years of research ahead, but she anticipates that companies such as Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel and Sun Microsystems might begin investing in research that emphasizes artificial DNA and its possible applications, shaking a potential Pandora’s Box next to their ears.
written by Grus i Salaten, July 27, 2008
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