Biological supercomputer uses the ‘juice of life’
Using nanotechnology, proteins and a chemical that powers cells in everything from trees to people, researchers have built a biological supercomputer.
size that of a book, the supercomputer uses much less energy, so it runs cooler and more efficiently, according to scientists at McGill University, where the lead researchers on the project work.
Dan Nicolau Sr., chairman of the Department of Bioengineering at McGill said “We’ve managed to create a very complex network in a very small area. This started as a back-of-an-envelope idea, after too much rum I think, with drawings of what looked like small worms exploring mazes.”
This research advances work on biological computers that has been going on for years. the biological computer is designed to process data quickly and accurately using parallel networks, much like traditional electronics supercomputers do. The biocomputer uses a chip that is 1.5 centimeters square with etched channels that carry short strings of proteins instead of the usual electrons. The proteins’ movements are driven by adenosine triphosphate, a chemical that enables energy transfer between cells.
McGill scientists call adenosine triphosphates the “juice of life”.
The effort shows that the bio-supercomputer can handle complex classical mathematical problems by using parallel computing, researchers say there is “a lot of work ahead” to make it a full-scale functional computer.
“Now that this model exists as a way of successfully dealing with a single problem, there are going to be many others who will follow up and try to push it further, using different biological agents, for example.It’s hard to say how soon it will be before we see a full-scale bio-supercomputer.“said Nicolau
He further added that to enable the bio-computer to take on more complex problems, one solution might be to combine the bio-machine with a conventional computer to create a hybrid device.”Right now we’re working on a variety of ways to push the research”said Nicolau.