Nano-transistor self-assembles using biology

In a major step towards developing nanoscale electronics, researchers have successfully coaxed DNA into acting as a self-assembling nanoscale transistors.

The key component in all modern electronics, transistors regulate current and act as switches or gates for electronic signals. The allure of DNA is that it can self-assemble into transistors far smaller than those used in conventional silicon-based chips.

Researcher Erez Braun and colleagues at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa created the new nanotechnology “by coating a central part of a long DNA molecule with proteins from an E. coli bacterium. Next, graphite nanotubes coated with antibodies were added, which bound onto the protein.”

“But while DNA by itself is a very good self-assembling building block, it doesn’t conduct electrical current,” explains Braun.

“After this, a solution of silver ions was added. The ions chemically attach to the phosphate backbone of the DNA, but only where no protein has attached. Aldehyde then reduces the ions to silver metal, forming the foundation of a conducting wire.”

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