Feeds

IBM twists DNA for future chip fab tech

Organic armature for nanotubues, anyone?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Read the release and you'd think IBM has discovered the Holy Grail of chip making: a way to "pack more power and speed" into microprocessors, while "making them more energy efficient and less expensive to manufacture".

One day, maybe. For now, though, the concept of using DNA to create shapes onto which chip makers can then bind "carbon nanotubes, silicon nanowires or quantum dots" to create processors remains a 'could' rather than a 'can'.

But the IBM breakthrough is a step in that direction, providing a basis for techniques by which such chips may be fabricated rather an innovation in the design of the chips themselves.

What a team from IBM and the California Institute of Technology, led by Paul W K Rothemund, have done is use established chip making techniques, specifically electron-beam lithography and dry oxidative etching, to create anchor points onto which sculpted strands of DNA can then bind precisely and accurately.

IBM DNA chip tech

DNA binding sites, yesterday

The DNA sculptures are created in solution using essentially the same methodology that DNA use to replicate itself within living cells. The molecule's base pairs will only attach to their specific partners - cytosine to guanine, for instance - allowing one strand of the double-helix to provide a template for the second strand.

By sequencing their own run of base pairs, attached to a single strand of viral DNA, and applying a mixture of different short synthetic oligonucleotide strands as mounting points, the team created self-assembling DNA molecules that were folded - a process dubbed by some wag 'DNA Origami' - into specific shapes ready to fit into the lithographed anchor points.

The team said that DNA nanostructures such as squares, triangles and stars can be prepared with dimensions of 100-150nm on an edge and a thickness of the width of the DNA double helix.

The team were able to demonstrate that the folded DNA molecules generally attach to the correct points and with the correct orientation - the technique works reasonably accurately, in other words.

Creating DNA shapes isn't new, but getting them to bid to a silicon substrate in an orderly, controlled way has not proved successful before. Central to the breakthrough were finding the right material on which the DNA shapes would bind and the right conditions to encourage binding and accurate orientation. The upshot is a DNA scaffold onto which active future chip components can be assembled. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS
It's got four KILOWATTS of something, apparently
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Is living with Dolby Atmos worth the faff?
Subtle, naturalistic ambiance – perfect for Transformers 4
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.