- Researchers built a transistor network made up of 74 DNA molecules.
- Each circuit takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete a calculation.
- The hope is to one day build motors and transistors at a molecular level to help fight disease.
Scientists have long wanted to build motors, transistors and switches at the molecular level with hopes of one day being able to help fight diseases or do amazing mini-feats of engineering.
A group of California researchers say they've made a big step toward that effort in an experiment that linked 74 DNA molecules together to perform a square-root computation.
It's the largest biochemical circuit ever made, and could lead to new ways of building tiny diagnostic tests and new biosensors, according to Erik Winfree, co-author and professor of computer science, computation and neural systems, and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology.
"When the first transistor was built, they could do one," Winfree said. "Then they hooked together 10 into a circuit, now we are at millions. Some information technologies have this scaling property. That's what we are looking for at the biochemical level."