A team of researchers at the University of Rochester in New York state have developed a computer made from DNA. This rather special computer uses 32 strands of DNA to store and process information. One of the biggest achievements of this computer has been to calculate the square root of numbers up to 900.
The computer utilizes the process of Hybridization to its advantage. It is a process of attaching two strands of DNA to form a double helix structure. The rather neat trick the team has utilized involves the encoding of a number onto the DNA using a combination of ten building blocks. Each combination uniquely represents a number up to 900. The combination is then attached to a fluorescence marker to identify the location of the combination easily.
The next step in DNA-Computing is to manipulate the process of Hybridization in such a way that the fluorescent signal corresponds to that of the intended result. Then the result is deduced from the colour.
There’s a wide held belief among some sections of researchers that the genetic material of our cells is capable of performing the same calculations as that of a computer and several times faster as well. While still in their infancy, DNA computers will be able to store billions of times more data than our Personal Computers. This new field of technological research holds great promise not only for the future of technology but for science as a whole.
Although the research required to get the computers to perform as such has been slow, things are improving with researchers such as the ones at the University of Rochester in New York working hard to push the boundaries of our current capabilities. Things have come a long way since the days of Leonard Adleman, the father of DNA computing.