Scarcely fifty years have passed since the first computers were constructed, and within that time we have seen an exponential increase in the power of computers. So much so that, a USB drive nowadays is more powerful than the computers aboard the early Apollo missions!
Yet, there is a problem looming on the horizon of these advances. Our current methods for producing computer components like microchips rely on techniques that seem unlikely to be able to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for more powerful low-cost computers. So, in order to sustain the exponential growth in computing that we have seen over the last 50 years, we must re-invent the way we manufacture electronics.
The current approach to manufacturing is what is called a “top-down” approach which means that the final product (say a computer chip) is created by taking a large amount of material and using high-precision devices to cut it down so that it can fulfil its role.
One major limitation of the “top-down” approach is that as demand grows for ever more powerful computers we may also experience a substantial rise in the cost of electronics. Continuing to use the top-down approach would require devices capable atomic-scale precision in order to carve that starting material into a functional device. These devices tend to be very, very expensive.
In order to circumvent some of these problems, there has been interest in replacing or augmenting silicon-based devices with molecular devices measuring in nanometers. If molecular-based computing devices can be successfully created it could be a paradigm shift in the way electronics are manufactured, allowing them to be produced faster and less expensively than they ever have in the past. In order to assess the feasibility of molecular computing systems, we need to build them. Molecular computing not only relies on the individual molecules but the way they work together to preform functions. This work starts with a primary focus on the behavior of the individual molecular components followed by study on the ways in which the molecules interact with one another.
In this study we have taken the first step by conducting an in-depth study on the behavior of Chimeric DNA oligonucleotides and found reliable methods for their manipulation across a variety of substrates.
Our major goals to complete this first step were:
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