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IBM Could Use DNA to Make Next-Gen Chips

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 25 comments

DNA to make chips. Sounds like sci-fi, but it's not.

Chip makers are always looking for the next big breakthrough in making smaller, faster, more energy efficient computer chips. IBM, always pushing its research and development teams, claims to have found a potential new chip making method using nanotechnology.

In conjunction with the California Institute of Technology collaborator Paul W.K. Rothemund, IBM Research has published its findings on an advancement in combining lithographic patterning with self assembly – a method to arrange DNA origami structures on surfaces compatible with today’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Current manufacturing techniques focus on making feature sizes smaller than 22-nm, and IBM's approach of using DNA molecules as scaffolding could be the way there. IBM explained that millions of carbon nanotubes could be deposited and self-assembled into precise patterns by sticking to the DNA molecules. Specially positioned DNA nanostructures can serve as scaffolds, or miniature circuit boards, for the precise assembly of components – such as carbon nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles – at dimensions significantly smaller than possible with conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques.   

The paper on this work, “Placement and orientation of DNA nanostructures on lithographically patterned surfaces,” by scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of Technology, will be published in the September issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Those with an online account may access it now here.

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  • 21 Hide
    teeth_03 , August 18, 2009 1:38 AM
    mlopinto2k1If they used Chuck Norris' DNA the chip would remove the nanotubes and just use the DNA.


    Chuck Norris's DNA could max out Crysis...Twice...
  • 18 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 18, 2009 1:29 AM
    If they used Chuck Norris' DNA the chip would remove the nanotubes and just use the DNA.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    Burodsx , August 17, 2009 11:19 PM
    I've read about this a few months ago. The idea is to make DNA attach to the material, then remove the DNA once it is formed. The process is supposed to be cost effective and better all-around. The article mentioned manufacturing to approximately the 7-9nm level. Hopefully they can make this work sooner rather than later.*crosses fingers*
  • 6 Hide
    megabuster , August 17, 2009 11:59 PM
    paranoidmageThe hydrogen bonds holding two strands of DNA together break at low temperatures, around 55 degrees Celsius. I don't know how strong the individual strands are, but I wouldn't want my CPU to denature when I run Prime95.

    DNA is only used to build the processor; they are not building an organic CPU.
  • 2 Hide
    Burodsx , August 18, 2009 1:04 AM
    The DNA is removed after forming the desired product. Hence think of the DNA as a mold.
  • 18 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 18, 2009 1:29 AM
    If they used Chuck Norris' DNA the chip would remove the nanotubes and just use the DNA.
  • 21 Hide
    teeth_03 , August 18, 2009 1:38 AM
    mlopinto2k1If they used Chuck Norris' DNA the chip would remove the nanotubes and just use the DNA.


    Chuck Norris's DNA could max out Crysis...Twice...
  • 6 Hide
    gekko668 , August 18, 2009 1:59 AM
    That's interesting. I wonder that is the TDP going to be.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , August 18, 2009 2:35 AM
    Will it cause your CPU to have cancer after extensive usage?
  • -5 Hide
    rambo117 , August 18, 2009 3:16 AM
    megabusterDNA is only used to build the processor; they are not building an organic CPU.

    that would be nasty lol.
  • 7 Hide
    tidoubleger , August 18, 2009 4:07 AM
    Skynet?
  • 4 Hide
    strange_1889 , August 18, 2009 4:13 AM
    while I don't doubt IBM's find, I don't see this happening ANY time soon say at least 10 years off. I worked with carbon nano-tubes in academia and our current manufacturing and manipulation techniques are far too unpredictable to build something like a CPU out of C-nanotubes. I'm not saying that using DNA scaffolding won't work, I'm saying merely getting the raw materials (C-nanotubes) in such a way as to be efficient and cost effective enough to put to market is impossible at this stage, and while this will change rapidly it takes time for technology to mature to a point to be marketable.
  • -7 Hide
    strange_1889 , August 18, 2009 4:13 AM
    while I don't doubt IBM's find, I don't see this happening ANY time soon say at least 10 years off. I worked with carbon nano-tubes in academia and our current manufacturing and manipulation techniques are far too unpredictable to build something like a CPU out of C-nanotubes. I'm not saying that using DNA scaffolding won't work, I'm saying merely getting the raw materials (C-nanotubes) in such a way as to be efficient and cost effective enough to put to market is impossible at this stage, and while this will change rapidly it takes time for technology to mature to a point to be marketable.
  • 0 Hide
    ebattleon , August 18, 2009 4:51 AM
    still using dna to make cpu's is a novel concept. it would make the process more environmentally friendly too.
  • -1 Hide
    rooseveltdon , August 18, 2009 6:10 AM
    This must be stopped, in the future the very first batch of dna molded processors will develop self awareness and enslave mankind....
    I am John Connor and if you are reading this, you are the resistance.
  • 3 Hide
    anamaniac , August 18, 2009 8:29 AM
    Very interesting.

    Too bad IBM doesn't make PPC processors for PCs anymore. Sure, the Macintosh PPC chips weren't all that great, but the tri core in the xbox 360 is awesome (though not a x86 chio).

    I'm hoping IBM is succesful myself
  • -4 Hide
    zak_mckraken , August 18, 2009 1:24 PM
    tidoublegerSkynet?

    You beat me to it! +1
  • 1 Hide
    belezeebub , August 18, 2009 2:52 PM
    Skip the middleman and make a DNA or RNA cpu (no cpu has matched the human brain as of yet)
  • 0 Hide
    captaincharisma , August 18, 2009 3:01 PM
    well i guess if they want to make a value cpu then they could use the DNA of George Bush or Sarah Palin or would the CPU still be too slow? :) 
  • 4 Hide
    fulle , August 18, 2009 4:01 PM
    This reminds me of the Graphene processor technology that was under research.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene

    They've made transistors out of Graphene that are like 2 atoms by 8 atoms in size, IIRC, and the technology can produce processors 500-1000GHz in speed.

    DNA or Graphene, it seems like there is going to be a shift away from Silicon (which is hitting its limits), and a move to new processes to build ridiculously tiny transistors out of carbon instead (graphene is also made of carbon atoms).
  • 3 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 18, 2009 4:07 PM
    That would be cool to see someday, AMD or Intel or some new company hitting the 1Thz mark first. (terahertz)?
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