The discovery could lead to computing chips that integrate both DNA molecules as well as traditional chip architectures built with silicon to create higher performing semiconductors in the future.
According to Alex Deiters, associate professor of chemistry at NCSU, DNA computing has tremendous potential as DNA has the ability to store much more data than silicon-based chips, but DNA is difficult to control. In fact, DNA computation are rather random acts – even the when and the where cannot be controlled. For this reason, scientists have been struggling with the creation of DNA computation sequences.
Deiters said that he was able to control DNA by "photocaging" portions of the DNA strands. By exposing the DNA to UV light, the scientist said that he "successfully photocaged several different nucleotides on a DNA logic gate known as an AND gate." UV light caused a computational event to be initiated and completed. Deiters now hopes that photocaging will enable scientists to create more complex computational processes and enable interfaces between silicon and DNA-based computers.