Professor Park Hyun Gyu’s research team from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST has successfully implemented all logic gates using DNA, a feat that led the research to be published as the cover paper for the international nanotechnology paper "Small".
Even with the latest technology, it was impossible to create a silicon based semiconductor smaller than 10nm, but because DNA has a thickness of only 2nm, this could lead to the creation of semiconductors with groundbreaking degrees of integration.
A 2 nm semiconductor will be able to store 10,000 HD movies within a size of a postage stamp, at least 100 times more than the current 20nm semiconductors.
DNAs are comprised of 4 bases which are continually connected: Adenine (A) with Thymine (T), and Guanine (G) with Cytosine (C).
For this research, the team used the specific binding properties of DNA, which forms its helix-shape, and a circular molecular beacon that has fluorescent signaling properties under structural changes.
The research team used input signals to open and close the circular DNA, the same principle that is applied to logic gates in digital circuits.
The output signal was measured using the increase and decrease of the fluorescent signal from the molecular beacon due to the opening and closing of the circular DNA respectively.
The team overcame the limited system problems of the existing logic gates and managed to implement all 8 logic gates (AND, OR, XOR, INHIBIT, NAND, NOR, XNOR, IMPlCATION). A multilevel circuit that connects different logic gates was also tested to show its regenerative properties.
Professor Park said that “cheap bio-electric devices with high degrees of integration will be made possible by this research” and that “there will be a large difference in the field of molecular level electronic research”
Mr. Park Gi Su, a doctoral candidate and the 1st author of this research, said that “a DNA sequence of 10 bases is only 3.4nm long and 2nm thick, which can be used to effectively increase the degree of integration of electronic devices” and that “a bio computer could materialize in the near future through DNA semiconductors with accurate logic gates”.
XOR Gate: The output signal 1 comes through the open circular DNA when either input DNA A or input DNA B is present. When both inputs are not present, the flourescent signal does not come through
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