Friedrich Schiller University Jena researchers develops molecular computer using sugar

Researchers develop molecular computer using sugar

6:06 AM, 24th June 2014
researchers develops molecular computer using sugar
Chemist Martin Elstner from jena University and his colleagues use fluorescent sugar sensors for information processing. © Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU.

JENA, GERMANY: Researchers at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany have developed the ‘sweetest computer in the world.’ The computer uses sugar molecules as a part of the chemical sequence for information processing. Professor Dr Alexander Schiller works at a rectangular plastic board with 384 small wells. The chemist carefully pipets some drops of sugar solution into a row of the tiny reaction vessels. As soon as the fluid has mixed with the contents of the vessels, fluorescence starts in some of the wells.

The chemist of Jena University and his two postgraduate students, Martin Elstner and Jorg Axthelm recently described in the new edition of the science journal ‘Angewandte Chemie International Edition’ how they developed a molecular computer on the basis of sugar.

“The binary logic which makes a conventional computer chip work is based on simple yes/no-decisions. There is either electricity flowing between both poles of an electric conductor or there isn’t,” explained Schiller. These potential differences are being coded as ‘0’ and ‘1’ and can be linked via logic gates - the Boolean operators like AND, OR, NOT. In this way, a number of different starting signals and complex circuits are possible.

Chemical reactions linked with computer algorithms can be realized with the help of chemical substances, as the Jena chemists were able to show. For their ‘sugar computer’ they use several components: One fluorescent dye and a so-called fluorescence quencher. “If there are both components involved, the colorant can’t display its impact and we don’t see a fluorescence signal,” said Schiller. But if sugar molecules are involved, the fluorescence quencher reacts with the sugar and thus loses its capability to suppress the fluorescence signal, which makes the dye fluorescent. Depending on whether the dye, the fluorescence quencher and the sugar are on hand to give the signal, a fluorescent signal results – ‘1’ - or no signal – ‘0.’

“We link chemical reactions with computer algorithms in our system in order to process complex information. If a fluorescence signal is registered, the algorithm determines what goes into the reaction vessel next,” said explained Martin Elstner.

In this way signals are not translated and processed in a current flow, like in a computer but in a flow of matter. That their chemical processing platform works, Schiller and his staff demonstrated in the current study with the sample calculation 10 + 15.

“It took our sugar computer about 40 minutes, but the result was correct. It is not our aim to develop a chemical competition to established computer chips,” said Prof. Schiller.

The chemist rather sees the field of application in medical diagnostics. So it is for instance conceivable to connect the chemical analysis of several parameters of blood and urine samples via the molecular logic platform for a final diagnosis and thus enable decisions for therapies.


© Friedrich Schiller University Jena News



Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News

AkzoNobel to invest in performance coatings business in China

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS/SHANGHAI, CHINA: AkzoNobel is investing more than €6.5 million in its Songjiang site near Shanghai to expand an existi ...

Read more
Oxea completes construction of specialty esters plant in Nanjing, China

OBERHAUSEN, GERMANY: The chemical company Oxea’s specialty esters plant in Nanjing, China, is now mechanically complete and is currently in the ...

Read more
Making yarns from graphene oxide

PENNSYLVANIA, US: Researchers at Penn State and Shinshu University in Japan have developed a simple, scalable method of making graphene oxide (GO) fib ...

Read more
Bayer opens SeedGrowth Centre in Vietnam

MONHEIM, GERMANY: Bayer CropScience recently opened its new SeedGrowth Centre in Can Tho, Vietnam. This state-of-the-art facility aims to provide cust ...

Read more
European chemicals output to grow by 2.0 per cent this year, says Cefic

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: According to Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, the European chemicals output will grow by 2.0 per cent this year, driv ...

Read more
Nanoparticles in dietary supplement can be harmful to environment

WASHINGTON DC, US: Nanoparticles are becoming ubiquitous in food packaging, personal care products and are even being added to food directly. But the ...

Read more uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X