CO2_2016 - page 35

33
Chimica Oggi - Chemistry Today
- vol. 34(2) March/April 2016
NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS
NEWS
NEWS
Researchers at the University of Georgia and at Ben-Gurion
University in Israel have demonstrated for the first time that
nanoscale electronic components can be made from single
DNA molecules. Their study, published in the journal Nature
Chemistry, represents a promising advance in the search for
a replacement for the silicon chip.
The finding may eventually lead to smaller, more powerful
and more advanced electronic devices, according to the
study's lead author, Bingqian Xu.
"For 50 years, we have been able to place more and more
computing power onto smaller and smaller chips, but we
are now pushing the physical limits of silicon," said Xu, an
associate professor in the UGA College of Engineering and
an adjunct professor in chemistry and physics. "If silicon-
based chips become much smaller, their performance will
become unstable and unpredictable."
To find a solution to this challenge, Xu turned to DNA. He says
DNA's predictability, diversity and programmability make it
a leading candidate for the design of functional electronic
devices using single molecules.
Xu and collaborators at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
describe using a single molecule of DNA to create the
world's smallest diode. A diode is a component vital to
electronic devices that allows current to flow in one direction
but prevents its flow in the other direction.
Xu and a team of graduate research assistants at UGA
isolated a specifically designed single duplex DNA of 11
base pairs and connected it to an electronic circuit only a
few nanometers in size. After the measured current showed
no special behavior, the team site-specifically intercalated
a small molecule named coralyne into the DNA. They found
the current flowing through the DNA was 15 times stronger
for negative voltages than for positive voltages, a necessary
feature of a diode.
"This finding is quite counterintuitive because the molecular
structure is still seemingly symmetrical after coralyne
intercalation," Xu said.
A theoretical model developed by Yanantan Dubi of Ben-
Gurion University indicated the diode-like behavior of DNA
originates from the bias voltage-induced breaking of spatial
symmetry inside the DNA molecule after the coralyne is
inserted.
"Our discovery can lead to progress in the design and
construction of nanoscale electronic elements that are at
least 1,000 times smaller than current components," Xu said.
The research is supported by the National Science
Foundation.
Source: University of Georgia website
UGA researchers use single molecule
of DNA to create world’s smallest diode
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