IBM finds way to build microchips using DNA

Scientists claim breakthrough will make computer chips more powerful, faster and cheaper to manufacture

Tags: DNAInternational Business Machines CorporationUSA
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IBM finds way to build microchips using DNA Low concentrations of triangular DNA origami bind to wide lines on a lithographically patterned surface.
By  Vineetha Menon Published  August 17, 2009

Scientists from IBM have found a cheaper way to build computer chips that are more powerful and faster using DNA.

The breakthrough announced by IBM researchers and collaborator Paul W.K. Rothemund, from California Institute of Technology, sees DNA origami structures arranged on surfaces of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

The industry is presently faced with the challenge of developing lithographic technology for feature sizes smaller than 22 nm. IBM's approach of using DNA molecules as scaffolding reaches dimensions much smaller than 22 nm.

DNA origami involves single DNA molecules self assembling in solution as a result of a reaction between a long single strand of viral DNA and a mixture of different short synthetic oligonucleotide strands. These short segments act as staples that can be modified to provide attachment sites for nanoscale components at resolutions (separation between sites) as small as 6 nanometers (nm).

"The cost involved in shrinking features to improve performance is a limiting factor in keeping pace with Moore's Law and a concern across the semiconductor industry," said Spike Narayan, manager, Science & Technology, IBM Research - Almaden. "The combination of this directed self-assembly with today's fabrication technology eventually could lead to substantial savings in the most expensive and challenging part of the chip-making process."

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