Assessing the potential of surface-immobilized molecular logic machines for integration with solid state technology

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Dunn, Katherine Elizabeth ; Trefzer, Martin Albrecht ; Johnson, Steven David ; Tyrrell, Andrew Martin (2016)

Molecular computation with DNA has great potential for low power, highly parallel information processing in a biological or biochemical context. However, significant challenges remain for the field of DNA computation. New technology is needed to allow multiplexed label-free readout and to enable regulation of molecular state without addition of new DNA strands. These capabilities could be provided by hybrid bioelectronic systems in which biomolecular computing is integrated with conventional electronics through immobilization of DNA machines on the surface of electronic circuitry. Here we present a quantitative experimental analysis of a surface-immobilized OR gate made from DNA and driven by strand displacement. The purpose of our work is to examine the performance of a simple representative surface-immobilized DNA logic machine, to provide valuable information for future work on hybrid bioelectronic systems involving DNA devices. We used a quartz crystal microbalance to examine a DNA monolayer containing approximately 5 × 10^{11} gates cm^{−2}, with an inter-gate separation of approximately 14 nm, and we found that the ensemble of gates took approximately 6 min to switch. The gates could be switched repeatedly, but the switching efficiency was significantly degraded on the second and subsequent cycles when the binding site for the input was near to the surface. Otherwise, the switching efficiency could be 80% or better, and the power dissipated by the ensemble of gates during switching was approximately 0.1 nW cm^{−2}, which is orders of magnitude less than the power dissipated during switching of an equivalent array of transistors. We propose an architecture for hybrid DNA-electronic systems in which information can be stored and processed, either in series or in parallel, by a combination of molecular machines and conventional electronics. In this architecture, information can flow freely and in both directions between the solution-phase and the underlying electronics via surface-immobilized DNA machines that provide the interface between the molecular and electronic domains.
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