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Chinese scientists design DNA-based programmable computing device

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-09-15 15:20

SHANGHAI -- Chinese scientists have developed a new type of general-purpose and programmable computing unit based on DNA molecules, marking a key step towards building a DNA computer.

The widely-known integrated circuits used in past decades are mostly electronic and photonic ones based on semiconductors. Liquid-phase circuitry using genetic codes is a brand-new computing strategy that holds huge potential for massive parallelism in encoding and execution of algorithms.

However, biological molecules tend to diffuse and blend in liquids, which makes it challenging to apply this strategy to general-purpose computing.

The study published this week in the journal Nature demonstrated a system which, by integration of multilayer DNA-based programmable gate arrays (DPGAs), can solve quadratic equation.

The researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University assembled the device with three layers of cascade DPGAs comprising 30 logic gates with around 500 DNA strands. It works to control the random collision of molecules.

They have found that the use of single-stranded polymers, consisting of a small number of nucleotides, as a uniform transmission signal can reliably integrate large-scale integrated circuits with minimal leakage and high fidelity for general-purpose computing.

Equipped with an analog-to-digital converter, the device can be used to classify disease-related microRNAs, according to the study.

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