For the first time, researchers from University of Georgia and Ben-Gurion University have developed nanoscale electronic components from DNA molecules, which is too tiny to be seen under an ordinary microscope. Using a single DNA, they created a diode, which conducts electricity in one direction but prevents its flow in the other direction. In addition, the DNA module that was designed for the research comes with only 11 base pairs, whereas a human genome has approximately 3 billion pairs. That surely makes it a quite short helix.
DNA, by itself, doesn’t act like a diode. So, the scientists inserted a molecule named “coralyne” into the helix so that a current could flow through the DNA. What the team found that the current was 15 times stronger for negative voltages that for positive voltages, a vital feature to be a diode.
Bingqian Xu, lead author of the research decided to make the DNA a leading candidate to create minuscule components, as a replacement of the silicon chip.
“For 50 years, we have been able to place more and more computing power onto smaller and smaller chips, but we are now pushing the physical limits of silicon,” said Xu. “If silicon-based chips become much smaller, their performance will become unstable and unpredictable.”
The team plans to continue the research to further improve the DNA diode that could lead to more functional nanoscale electronics. The way the scientists are drastically scaling down components leads us to the future when they will be able to squeeze more into regular size gadgets.