September 2004

DNA Technology: Harnessing Life's Molecular Machinery
39 pages

This report examines the current state of DNA technology, organizes key issues and puts them in context, and succinctly explains how the technology works.

Researchers recognized more than a decade ago that DNA's flexible format -- four bases that can be sequenced to form many different combinations -- makes it an extremely versatile molecule that could be bent to various technical ends. In recent years scientists have advanced the prospects of tapping DNA to carry out DNA computing and mechanical assembly.

Taking short stretches of artificially-constructed DNA through various connections and disconnections makes it possible to carry out computations, including the boolean logic of silicon computers.

Researchers are also tapping this connection ability to coax DNA to assemble into three-dimensional structures. Specific stretches of DNA can also be engineered to bind to various materials, including tiny metal spheres, before self-assembling. This allows DNA to be used to assemble nanoscale machines and materials atom by atom.

The report includes an executive summary, a list of 18 developments to look for as these cutting-edge technologies take shape, and a section of 20 researchers to watch, including links to their Web pages. It also includes a quick tour of 38 recent developments and a section of 32 in-depth news stories from TRN.

The main report is organized into the following sections: biology becomes technology, sticky ends and dna tiles, computer in a test tube, readout, storage, automatons, champion of self-assembly, molecular machinery, in the grasp, molecular motors, nanotubes and nanoparticles, waffles, tubes, trees and pyramids, nanowire maker, DNA in bulk, the biochemical future.

The in-depth news stories are organized into the following categories: computing, machines, assembly, structures, electronics and materials.

TRN's Making the Future reports contain live links, and can be read on a computer, printed and archived.

Buy the the DNA Technology report for $89.
. You will receive download instructions via email.

Report Sections

Executive Summary:
288 words

Main Report:
3,238 words

How It Works:
1,174 words

In-Depth Stories:
32 stories, including 16 images

Table of Contents:

Main Report
Biology becomes technology
Sticky ends and DNA tiles
Computer in a test tube
Champion of self-assembly
Molecular machinery
In the grasp
Molecular motors
Nanotubes and nanoparticles
Waffles, tubes, trees and pyramids
Nanowire maker
DNA in bulk
The biochemical future

How It Works

Sticky ends, branches and tiles
Traveling salesman
Logic circuits

In-Depth Story Categories

Take a look at all available Making the Future reports.

View a four-page sample of the Making the Future report (pdf).

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