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Windows 7: DNA Could Be Used to Make Next-Gen Chips, IBM Claims

17 Aug 2009   #1

DNA Could Be Used to Make Next-Gen Chips, IBM Claims

In their quest for new technologies that can provide chip manufacturers with new ways to improve the performance and features of their next-generation products, scientists at IBM have recently announced that they are experimenting with using DNA molecules in an attempt to create tiny circuits that could be at the basis of smaller, more powerful computer processors. The project is based on the work that has been done for several years now by Paul Rothmund, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology.

“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.”
Today's most advanced microprocessors are designed using the 45nm manufacturing technology, but the industry is moving towards more advanced technologies with 22nm just on the horizon. According to IBM, the approach for using DNA molecules as scaffolding, a technique where millions of carbon nanotubes could be deposited and self-assembled into precise patterns by arranging them on DNA molecules, could enable chip makes to go beyond the 22nm litography. The technology could also allow them to see some important cost savings, as they are trying to break new barriers in the lithography process.

The process has been explained by Spike Narayan in a recent news-article on Reuters:

Basically, this is telling us that biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes. The tinier the chip, the more expensive the equipment. If the DNA origami process scales to production-level, manufacturers could trade hundreds of millions of dollars in complex tools for less than a million dollars of polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements. The savings across many fronts could add up significantly.”

The efforts done by the IBM scientists and Paul Rothmund could enable customers to take advantage of more advanced devices that require less power and are exponentially more affordable. However, the technology is far from becoming mainstream as there's a good chance these chips could only become a reality in 10 years from now.
Source: DNA Could Be Used to Make Next-Gen Chips, IBM Claims - New technology to improve future computer chips - Softpedia

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17 Aug 2009   #2

'Origami' DNA Self-Organizes onto Silicon Substrates

According to a new scientific paper published in the latest issue of the respected journal Nature Nanotechnology, it would appear that engineered DNA “origami” tends to self-organize, when placed on silicon substrates. The find could have major implications for the design of better circuits and more advanced computer processors, the BBC News informs. The new structures could, for instance, serve as a scaffolding for electrical components situated just six billionths of a meter away from each other.

Leading computer experts believe that making the distance between these components smaller leads to ever smaller devices, and also to much faster computers. In addition, the six-nanometer standard would be approximately eight times smaller than existing technologies, which now revolve around 45 to 50 nanometers.

The breakthrough with the new method will be that DNA itself will be used to store and handle data. Other investigations have already revealed that the organic acid is able to do simple mathematical equations as well, when inside a test tube or in simple bacteria.

But the new technique relies on manufacturing the needed shape of DNA from scratch, as was the case with the new triangles. In order for the anticipated progress in computing to take place, experts will undoubtedly have to use revolutionary, new materials, such as carbon nanowires and graphene, which by definition operate better at the nanoscale.

However, they are incredibly difficult to manipulate. Using the open structures at the end of the DNA strands – under the complementarity principle – could allow researchers to essentially “anchor” these structures together, based on specific schematics.

The new method for fixing DNA to silicon is also extremely promising, because the acid has been inserted in holes of precise shapes, which were previously drilled by experts using existing techniques. The substrate is etched with the desired shapes, and then a liquid containing the origami DNA is poured on it. The DNA molecules appear to bind to the etches on their own, which eliminates a potentially difficult step in the manufacturing process from the minds of experts.

“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,” Spike Narayan, who is a science and technology manager at the IBM Almaden Research Center, told the British news outlet. He also added that the technology based on the new find could be ready for industry-wide implementation within a decade.
Source: 'Origami' DNA Self-Organizes onto Silicon Substrates - The effect has been discovered by experts at IBM - Softpedia
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 DNA Could Be Used to Make Next-Gen Chips, IBM Claims

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