DNA-Based Chips have recently been developed with the developers hoping to replace electronic CPUs in the future as they are consuming less power, which will be advantageous for global warming.

According to a report, Korea-based Incheon National University's Dr. Youngjun Song, who led the study said, they hope that this new technology also offers a platform for complex computations, including deep-learning solutions, as well as mathematical modeling.

Essentially, the term DNA instantaneously calls to mind the double-stranded helix that has all the genetic information.

Nevertheless, as indicated in this report, the individual units of the chips' two strands are pairs of molecules bonded in a "selective complementary" manner.

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Science Times - DNA-Based Chip: Programmed to Provide Math Solutions; Scientists Hope This Technology Will Help with Global Warming, Too
(Photo: IX-factory STK on Wikimedia Commons)
Microfluidic Chip fabricated in Glass

DNA Computing

It turns out, an individual can take advantage of such a pairing property to carry out multifaceted mathematical computations, and this then forms the basis of DNA computing.

Since DNA comprises only two strands, conducting even a simple mathematical calculation necessitates multiple chemical reactions through different DNA sets.

In the most current research, the DNAs for every reaction are added manually, one by one, into one reaction tube, making the process quite cumbersome.

Meanwhile, microfluidic chips, which comprise narrow channels imprinted onto a material such as plastic, provides a way of automating the process. Nonetheless, despite their potential, the utilization of microfluidic chips for DNA computing stays unexplored.

In an article published in ACS Nano, a group of scientists from INU presented the programmable DNA-based microfluidic chip that a personal computer can regulate to carry out DNA computations.

3D Printing

Dr. Song's team used 3D printing to fabricate their microfluidic chip, as generally described in the Fluigent site, which can implement Boolean logic, one of the fundamental logic of computer programming.

This fundamental logic is a true-or-false type that compares inputs and brings back a value of "true" or "false" depending on the operation type or logic gate employed.

Such a logic gate in this particular experiment comprised of a one-stranded DNA template. Various single-stranded DNA were then used as inputs.

If part of DNA comprised a "complementary Watson-Crick sequence to the template DNA," this research specified, it paired to form a two-stranded DNA. The output was then regarded as true or false depending on the final DNA's size.

An Extraordinary Chip

What makes this designed chip unique is that, as described in the report, it is "a motor-operated valve system" that can be run through the use of a smartphone or a computer.

The chip and the software set-up together are forming a microfluidic processing unit or MPU, which, according to The Register, is a process that has customarily needed strenuous mixing of DNA strands into a reaction tube using the hand.

Because of the valve system, the MPU could carry out a series of reactions to execute a combination of logic operations quickly and conveniently.

This distinctive valve system of the DNA-based MPU that's programmable is paving the way for more multifaceted cascades of reactions that can code for comprehensive functions.

According to Song, future studies will concentrate on a total DNA computing solution and DNA algorithms and storage systems.

Related information about programmable DNA-based chips is shown on the NIH VideoCast's YouTube video below:


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