|Posted: Aug 19, 2015|
New research could help build computers from DNA(Nanowerk News) New research from the University of East Anglia could one day help build computers from DNA.
|Scientists have found a way to 'switch' the structure of DNA using copper salts and EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) - an agent commonly found in shampoo and other household products.|
|It was previously known that the structure of a piece of DNA could be changed using acid, which causes it to fold up into what is known as an 'i-motif'.|
|But new research published today in the journal Chemical Communications ("Reversible DNA i-motif to hairpin switching induced by copper (ii) cations") reveals that the structure can be switched a second time into a hair-pin structure using positively-charged copper (copper cations). This change can also be reversed using EDTA.|
|The applications for this discovery include nanotechnology - where DNA is used to make tiny machines, and in DNA-based computing - where computers are built from DNA rather than silicon.|
|It could also be used for detecting the presence of copper cations, which are highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms, in water.|
|Lead researcher Dr Zoë Waller, from UEA's school of Pharmacy, said: "Our research shows how the structure of our genetic material - DNA - can be changed and used in a way we didn't realise.|
|"A single switch was possible before - but we show for the first time how the structure can be switched twice.|
|"A potential application of this finding could be to create logic gates for DNA based computing. Logic gates are an elementary building block of digital circuits - used in computers and other electronic equipment. They are traditionally made using diodes or transistors which act as electronic switches.|
|"This research expands how DNA could be used as a switching mechanism for a logic gate in DNA-based computing or in nano-technology."|
|Source: University of East Anglia|
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