Researchers are paving the way for the future of micro-computing, using DNA (the building blocks of life) to build smaller-than-ever computer chips. These chips will be able to amass far superior amounts of circuitry compared to traditional silicon for only a fraction of the size, and their potential speed is unrivalled to silicon.

One of the main advantages of DNA computer chips is that they are vastly cheaper compared to silicon, according to Chris Dwyer, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. This will be beneficial in producing supercomputer machines at an economical price.

The most appealing benefit of DNA computer chips would be their superior processing speeds. They would use light instead of electricity to simulate zeros or ones because of a detector that would differentiate between different wavelengths of light emitted by molecules or chromophores on the chip.

Another group, IBM and the California Institute of Technology, have actually built a computer chip utilising synthesised DNA molecules. Their chip is a different technology that actually uses DNA as a positioner or mini circuit board for the precise assembly of components, thus making it easier to produce smaller chipsets.

Either technology by either group could substantially reduce the manufacturing cost of computer chips and their size while increasing their speed. The accomplishments by IBM and the California Institute of Technology show that this technology is coming, and the future is now.

[Physorg via Gizmodo Photo: kyz on Flickr; used under Creative Commons license]