IBM Scientists Look to DNA for Chip Inspiration

Paul Lilly

Imagine a microchip with the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen and absolutely no propensity towards disease. Now get that picture out of your head because it has nothing to do with what IBM is experimenting with.

IBM is, however, playing around with artificial DNA nanostructures, or "DNA origami," as a way to develop even smaller chips at cheaper prices, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal of Nature Nanotechnology.

"This is the first demonstration of using biological molecules to help with processing in the semiconductor industry," IBM research manager Spike Narayan said in an interview with Reuters. "Basically, this is telling us that biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes."

Narayan went on to say that if the DNA origami process scales to production level, manufacturers could look at spending less than a million dollars on polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements, rather than hundreds of millions of dollars on complex tools.

Sounds great, but the technology is still a ways off. It will be take at least another decade of experimentation and testing, Narayan says.

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