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Imagine one day all Computers will be Powered by DNA

After years of research, finally there's been a breakthrough read on to know more...

Can you guess what will power the computers of the future? The answer is in you, literally, (It’s your genes or DNA). Can you believe that for a brief moment?

Using genes or DNA to build chips that underpin a computer’s working is a new and emerging field with the vast discipline of computer science and IT. It is almost unimaginable. This field is called molecular computing is all a rage abroad, especially in Western Europe and the United States. In this blog, we bring the latest research developments in molecular computing taking place at Maynooth University in Ireland.

Professor Damien Woods, a Maynooth University computer scientist (and also former graduate of the University) is one of the leaders of a team bringing together researchers from Ireland and the United States. They made a significant breakthrough in the emerging field of molecular computing by using DNA to develop a multi-purpose, reprogrammable molecular computer. The team designed DNA molecules that can carry out reprogrammable computations, for the first time creating so-called algorithmic self-assembly in which the same hardware can be configured to run different software.

Their work was published very recently in the prestigious journal Nature.

What’s the difference between the contemporary silicon-based computers and these DNA-ones you ask?

While silicon computers use electricity flowing through circuits to carry out tasks, the molecular computers attach strands of DNA together to make larger objects that execute a program, effectively, in computer terminology, manipulating ‘bits.’  A total of 21 different DNA programs have been developed, for example determining whether 6-bit inputs such as 011001 contain an odd or even number of 1s, or are palindromes (i.e. reads the same backward as forwarding).  Another generates random numbers. 

The end result is a test tube filled with billions of completed algorithms, each one resembling a knitted scarf of DNA, representing a readout of the computation. The pattern on the "scarf" gives the solution to the algorithm that was run. The system can be reprogrammed to run a different algorithm by simply selecting a different subset of strands from the roughly 700 that constitute the system.  The algorithms have been able to carry out a variety of tasks, including drawing repeating and random patterns, counting to 63, and performing equality checks.

Although DNA-based computers have immense potential to be faster and more advanced than the present day ones, there needs to be more research to bring them out of the lab and into our homes and workplaces.

If this innovation fascinates you and if you are lured to be a part of this revolutionary breakthrough – the next generation of the marriage between DNAs and Computers, then, perhaps studying at Maynooth University, for a breakthrough and eventual career progression should be a wise choice without any hesitation whatsoever.

Maynooth is a campus university located in a beautiful town by the same name, just 30 minutes away from Ireland’s capital, Dublin. It is the best university in Ireland and ranks 49 in the world. The University offers a range of programmes across science and engineering, IT, business and management and the humanities. Graduates of Irish universities and institutes are able to stay in the country for up to 2 years after the successful completion of their studies.

Applications are still open for the September 2019 intake. So, what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest STORM office to find out more and start applying! While you’re at it, don’t forget to download STORM app from Google Play store to keep on top of the latest news and developments, courses and scholarships and get to speak to current students studying abroad and also win cool prizes!