DNA Transistor to Read DNA Molecules

A team of IBM Researchers is exploring new and innovative ways to quickly read human DNA at a low cost -- an advancement that can lead to important breakthroughs in health condition diagnosis and treatment.

The scientists are designing a "DNA Transistor" which is created by using an electron beam to make a nanometer-sized opening in a microchip, called a nanopore, to read DNA Molecules.

A DNA molecule consists of millions of different nucleotides that make up the human genome; the blueprint of living organisms.

Next, single strands of DNA molecules that are floating above the microchip are threaded or pulled through the nanopore by an electrical field, which begins the process of reading and sequencing the molecules.

The DNA Transistor device consists of alternating nanometer-sized layers of metal and dielectric. Discrete charges located along the backbone of a DNA molecule get trapped by electrical fields inside the nanopore. By trapping the DNA molecule, scientists will have ample time to measure the molecule structure.

By cyclically turning on and off these gate voltages, researchers have shown theoretically and computationally, and expect to be able prove experimentally, the plausibility of moving DNA through the nanopore at a rate of one nucleotide per cycle a rate that IBM scientists believe would make DNA readable.

Low-cost, yet efficient analysis of DNA data promises to help facilitate the discovery of new healthcare products, and help determine an individual's predisposition to a particular disease or condition.

Run time: 1.20 mins

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