Albany 2001

category image Biomolecular
SUNY at Albany
June 19-23, 2001

Biology-based nanoelectronics: Self-assembly of devices and networks by recombinant DNA

Recent advances in molecular biology and nanotechnology open the way to harness the biological machinery for the construction of molecular scale electronics. We have recently demonstrated that DNA molecules can serve as templates for self-assembled nanometer-scale conductive metallic wires (Nature, 391 775-778, 1998). Standard molecular biology techniques allow addresses, at nanometer-scale resolution, on the underlying DNA sequences, for the precise localization of electronic materials (e.g. gold particles), converting the insulating biological molecules into functionalized electronic components. Moreover, recombinant DNA, the natural mechanism of gene mixing in cells, can be employed for the formation of molecularly accurate DNA junctions that can serve as templates for more complex electronic devices. We will discuss our two-step self-assembly approach, where the inherent molecular recognition capabilities of DNA molecules are first utilized to construct a network that serves as a template for the subsequent assembly of electronic materials into a functionalized circuit. Specifically, RecA protein that is responsible for recombination in E. Coli bacteria is utilized to construct accurate DNA junctions. These junctions can serve as templates for electronic switching devices that are localized there. It is clear that the generalization of the above ideas to complex circuits poses conceptual challenges since conventional approaches (man-made engineering approach) can not cope with the complexity required from molecular electronics, nor with the inherent errors of self assembly. We believe that those barriers can be surmounted only by adoption of further biological concepts.

Erez Braun*, Uri Sivan, Kinneret Keren, Yoav Soen and Gdalyahu Ben-Yoseph

Department of Physics Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.
Tel: 972-48292879; Fax: 972-48221514; e-mail: erez@physics.technion.ac.il