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DNA Used To Create Self Assembling Conducting Wire: Breakthrough Will Lead To Next Leap In Emerging Nanoelectronics

NEW YORK, N.Y., and HAIFA, Israel, February 13, 1998 DResearchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have used strands of DNA, the biological molecule that makes up genes, to assemble tiny particles of silver into a conductive wire 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. The research, reported in the February 19, 1998 issue of Nature, is an important step toward the next quantum leap in electronics miniaturization. Making that leap is the ultimate goal of researchers in the emerging field of nanoelectronics.

The nanocircuits of the future will consist of wires, transistors and other components with dimensions measured in billionths of a meter. (One nanometer or a billionth of a meter, is about the length of five carbon atoms laid end to end.) By packing many more components closer together, scientists could produce computer chips that are much faster than today's, and far more sophisticated.

Scientists have already used DNA to assemble minute nanoparticles of semiconductors and other electronic material into crystal-like lattices and other orderly structures. But nobody until now has made a working electronic component.

"Our wire actually passes a current. This is the first demonstration of self assembly of any functioning electronic component," said physicist Uri Sivan, who conducted the research with Erez Braun, another physicist, and chemist Yoav Eichen.

Wires are the foundation of any circuit because they link circuit components to each other and to the outside world. The Technion team constructed their prototype nanowire between two gold electrodes separated by a narrow gap of 12 microns, about one-tenth the width of a human hair. They synthesized strands of DNA that linked themselves together to form a kind of construction scaffolding between the electrodes. Since DNA by itself does not pass current, they
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Contact: Martha Molnar
martha@ats.org
212 307-2595
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
18-Feb-1998


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