For decades, the semiconductor industry has relied on decreasing transistor size to increase computing power. However, physical constraints in the manufacturing process have limited further size reductions and the overall density of electronic components.

With the aim to overcome these limitations, a team of researchers led by Arizona State University’s Joshua Hihath has been awarded a $3 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a new manufacturing process that uses DNA to create ultrahigh-density nanoelectronic systems, leveraging DNA nanotechnology and synthetic biology to create a new generation of useful electronic applications at the molecular scale.

The four-year project will explore this new approach using DNA nanostructures as a scaffold to organize nanoelectronic components like carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles and single molecules.

By integrating these nanoscale parts with conventional silicon-based circuits, the researchers hope to achieve extremely high densities in hybrid electronic systems.

“Nanoscale and carbon-based electronic devices can provide functionality that is difficult to duplicate in conventional semiconductors,” Hihath, director of the Biodesign Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors and professor with ASU’s School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, says. “Yet, it has been very difficult to integrate these nanodevices into useful electronic circuits. DNA nanotechnology provides an exciting platform for integrating these devices with conventional electronics, with resolutions that are far better than what can be achieved with conventional lithography.”

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