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.