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Electric DNA

An international team of researchers led by Danny Porath at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem report in Nature Nanotechnology on their effort to conduct a charge through a long stretch of DNA.

A major challenge to DNA-based molecular electronics, IEEE Spectrum says, is that researchers have been unable to reliably measure the current flow through the molecules. But in this case, Porath and his colleagues say they achieved currents that ranged between tens of picoamperes and 100 pA and that those currents traveled through guanine-quadruplex DNA molecules for tens of nanometers to more than 100 nm.

"This research paves the way for implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics, a new generation of computer circuits that can be more sophisticated, cheaper, and simpler to make," Porath said in a press release.

But as IEEE Spectrum notes, there are other hurdles to overcome before molecular electronics can be a reality. "Perhaps the biggest remaining issue is how to maintain the stability of molecules under typical integrated circuit processing conditions — in particular, the propensity of direct vapor deposition of metallic electrodes onto molecules to result in shorts," it adds.