Jul 21, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

DNA 'Wires' Can Carry Electricity

Oct 28, 2014 03:04 PM EDT

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Scientists working at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have reportedly made a breakthrough that could have far-reaching implications for nanotechnology. The group, comprised of researchers from the U.S., Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Denmark, published their findings in Nature Nanotechnology and claim they have been able to show that DNA molecules can carry electric current.

The development of nano-circuits could revolutionize technology as we know it as it would allow for electricity and electronics to be harnessed and leveraged at a much smaller scale than ever before, perhaps the smallest scale possible.

Up to this point, no one has ever been able to reliably produce or measure electrical current moving through DNA molecules. Part of the issue that has plagued prior research in this area is the fact that each experiment performed by various labs invariably uses both different DNA molecules to test conductivity as well as different experimental architecture, which has apparently made comparing results akin to comparing apples to oranges, if you will. 

What makes this latest study different is that scientists measured significant current moving through DNA and were also able to reliably reproduce it. According to the study published, researchers measured currents over 100 picoamperes traveling distances exceeding 100 nanometers. 

According to Danny Porath, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this breakthrough could allow for "implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics, a new generation of computer circuits that can be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make."

It may be a long while before scientists can build complex working nano circuitry based off of this research, yet it is a significant step toward smaller and cheaper electronics. One of the biggest obstacles that remains is being able to guarantee DNA circuits will hold up during intense processing. There is always the risk of such architecture shorting out, but scientists are confident they'll figure out how to make it work.

The study was made possible by the European Commission along with the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Italian Institute of Technology project, the National Science Foundation, the Binational Science Foundation and the Minerva Center for Bio-Hybrid complex systems.

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