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Abstract

Silicon microprocessors information processing tools such as


have been the heart of computing world enzymes, copying tools, proofreading
for more than forty years. Computer chip mechanisms and so on, that evolution
manufacturers are furiously racing to has spent millions of years refining.
make the next microprocessor that will Now we are taking those tools in large
topple speed records and in the process numbers molecules and using them as
are cramming more and more electronic biological computer processors.
devices onto the microprocessor. Sooner DNA computing has a great
or later the physical speed and deal of advantage over conventional
miniaturization limits of silicon silicon-based computing. DNA
microprocessors are bound to hit a wall. computers can store billions of times
Chipmakers need a new more data than your personal computer.
material to produce faster computing DNA computers have the ability to work
speed with fewer complexities. You in a massively parallel fashion,
won’t believe where scientists have performing many calculations
found this new material. DNA, the simultaneously. DNA molecules that
material our genes are made of, is being provide the input can also provide all the
used to build the next generation of necessary operational energy.
microprocessors. Scientists are using DNA computing has made a
this genetic material to create nano- remarkable progress in almost every
computers that might take the place of field. It has found application in fields
silicon computers in the next decade. like biomedical, pharmaceutical,
A nascent technology that information security, cracking secret
uses DNA molecules to build computers codes, etc.
that are faster than the world’s most Scientists and researchers
powerful human-built computers is believe that in the foreseeable future
called DNA computing. Molecular DNA computing could scale up to great
biologists are beginning to unravel the heights!
1. Introduction massive parallelism would require large
amounts of hardware, not simply more
Man’s thirst for knowledge has DNA.
driven the information revolution.
Human brain, a master processor, Structure of DNA
processes the information about the All organisms on this planet
internal and external environment and are made of the same type of genetic
sends signals to take appropriate actions. blueprint, which bind us together.
In nature, such controls exist at every Within the cells of any organism is a
level. Even the smallest of the cells has a substance called Deoxyribonucleic Acid
nucleus, which controls the cell. Where (DNA), which is a double-stranded helix
does this power actually come from? It of nucleotides, which carries the genetic
lies in the DNA. The ability to harness information of a cell. The data density of
this computational power shall DNA is impressive. Just like a string of
determine the fate of next generation of binary data is encoded with ones and
computing. zeros, a strand of DNA is encoded with
DNA computing is a novel four bases, represented by letters A
technology that seeks to capitalize on the (Adenine), T (Thymine), C (Cytosine)
enormous informational capacity of and G (Guanine).
DNA, biological molecules that can
store huge amounts of information and The bases (nucleotides) are spaced every
are able to perform operations similar to 0.35 nanometers along the DNA
that of a computer, through the molecule, giving it a remarkable data
deployment of enzymes, biological density of nearly 18Mbits per inch.
catalysts that act like software to execute These nucleotides will only combine in
desired operations. The appeal of DNA such a way that C always pairs with G
computing lies in the fact that DNA and T always pairs with A. This
molecules can store far more complementarily makes DNA a unique
information than any existing data structure for computation and can
conventional computer chip. Also, be exploited in many ways.
utilizing DNA for complex computation
can be much faster than utilizing a
conventional computer, for which
that came about the correct answers were
Computer in a test tube determined considering that the correct
path must start at A and end at G, it must
The idea of using DNA to store and pass through all cities at least once and
process information took off in the year must contain each city in turn.
1994 when Leonard Ad leman, a
computer scientist at the University of The correct answer was determined by
Southern California, came to the filtering the strands of DNA according to
conclusion that DNA had computational their end-bases to determine which
potential. Ad leman caused an avalanche strands began from A and end in city G.
in the fields of biology; mathematics and The remaining strands were then
computers by solving a problem called measured through electrophoreic
the Directed Hamiltonian Path problem techniques to determine if the path they
or sometimes referred to as the Traveling represent has passed through all seven
Salesman Problem. The ‘salesman’ in cities. Finally the resulting sets of DNA
this problem has a map of several cities were examined individually to determine
that he must visit to sell his wares where if they contain each city in turn. That
these cities have only one-way streets strand(s) that remained was then
between some but not all of them. The determined to be the answer(s). This
crux of the problem is that the salesman process took Ad leman about a week. A
must find a route to travel that passes conventional computer is better suited
through each city (A through G) exactly for deterministic computation permitting
once, with a designated beginning and end. at most one next move at any step in
The salesman does not want to backtrack computation. The inherent parallel
or go more than once through any of the computing ability of DNA, however, is
paths. This is a non-deterministic perfectly suited for solving such non-
polynomial time problem. deterministic type of problems.

Ad leman used a basic seven city,


thirteen street model for Traveling
Salesman Problem and created randomly
sequenced DNA strands 20 bases long to
chemically represent each city and a
complementary 20 base strand that
overlaps each city’s strand half way to
represent each street. This representation
allowed each multi-city tour to become a
piece of double stranded DNA with the
cities linked in some order by the streets.

By placing a few grams of every DNA


city and street in a test tube and allowing
the natural bonding tendencies of the
DNA building blocks to occur, the DNA
bonding created over 10^9 answers in
less than one second. Out of the answers
2. A Successor to In a biochemical reaction-taking
Silicon place in a tiny surface area, a very large
number of DNA molecules can operate
Silicon microprocessors have been the in concert, creating a parallel processing
heart of computing world for more system that mimics the ability of the
than forty years. Computer chip most powerful supercomputer. DNA
manufacturers are furiously racing computers have the ability to perform
to make the next microprocessor many calculations simultaneously;
that will topple speed records and specifically, on the order of 10^9
in the process are cramming more calculations per ml of DNA per second!
and more electronic devices onto A calculation that would take 10^22
the microprocessor. Many have modern computers working in parallel to
predicted that Moore’s law (which complete in the span of one human’s life
states that the microprocessors would take one DNA computer only 1
would double in complexity every year to polish off!
two years) will soon reach its end,
because of the physical speed and 3. Scope and recent updates
miniaturization limits of silicon
microprocessors. Scientists have taken DNA from the
free-floating world of the test tube and
DNA computers have the potential to anchored it securely to a surface of glass
take computing to new levels, picking up and gold. University of Wiscosnin-
where Moore’s law leave off. DNA Madison researchers have developed a
computers could surpass their silicon- thin, gold-coated plate of glass about an
based predecessors. The several inch square. They believe it is the
advantages of DNA over silicon are: As optimum working surface on which they
long as there are cellular organisms, can attach trillions of strands of DNA.
there will be a supply of DNA. The large Putting DNA computing on a solid
supply of DNA makes it a cheap surface greatly simplifies the complex
resource. Unlike the toxic materials used and repetitive steps previously used in
to make traditional microprocessors, rudimentary DNA computers.
DNA biochips can be made cleanly. Importantly it takes DNA out of the test
DNA computers are many times smaller tube and puts it on a solid surface,
than today’s computers. making the technology simpler, more
DNA molecules have a accessible and more amenable to the
potential to store extensively large development of large DNA computers
amount of information. It has been capable of tackling the kind of complex
estimated that a gram of dried DNA can problems that conventional computers
hold as much information as a trillion now handle routinely. Researchers
CD’s. More than 10 trillion DNA believe that by the year 2010 the first
molecules can fit into an area of 1 cubic DNA chip will be commercially
centimeter. With this small amount if available.
DNA a computer would be able to hold
10 terabytes of data, and perform 10
trillion calculations at a time.
4. Applications DNA computing is in its
DNA logic gates are the infancy, and its implications are
first step towards creating a only beginning to be explored. But
computer that has a structure DNA computing devices could
similar to that of an electronic PC. revolutionize the pharmaceutical
Instead of using electrical signals and biomedical fields. Some
to perform logical operations, scientists predict a future where
these DNA logic gates rely on our bodies are patrolled by tiny
DNA code. They detect fragments DNA computers that monitor our
of genetic material as input, splice well-being and release the right
together these fragments and form drugs to repair damaged or
a single output. Recent works have unhealthy tissue. They could act as
shown how these gates can be ‘Doctors in a cell’. DNA
employed to carry out fundamental computing research is going so
computational operations, addition fast that its potential is still
of two numbers expressed in emerging.
binary. This invention of DNA
logic gates and their uses are a DNA computing can be used by national
breakthrough in DNA computing. governments for cracking secret codes,
or by airlines wanting to map more
A group of researchers at efficient routes. The concept of using
Princeton University in early 2000 DNA computing in the fields of
demonstrated an RNA computer similar cryptography, steganography and
to Ad leman’s, which had the ability to authentication has been identified as a
solve a chess problem involving how possible technology that may bring
many ways there are to place knights on forward a new hope for unbreakable
a chessboard so that none can take the algorithms in the world of information
others. While a desktop PC is designed security.
to perform one calculation very fast,
DNA strands produce billions of INFORMATION SECURITY
potential answers simultaneously. This
makes the DNA computer suitable for As modern encryption algorithms are
solving "fuzzy logic" problems that have broken, the world of information
many possible solutions rather than the security looks in new directions to
either/or logic of binary computers. In protect the data it transmits. The
the future, some speculate, there may be concept of using DNA computing in the
hybrid machines that use traditional fields of cryptography and
silicon for normal processing tasks but steganography has been identified as a
have DNA co-processors that can take possible technology that may bring
over specific tasks they would be more forward a new hope for unbreakable
suitable for. algorithms. Is the fledgling field of
DNA computing the next cornerstone in
the world of information security or is
our time better spent following other
paths for our data encryption algorithms
of the future? This paper will outline
some of the basics of DNA and DNA the three kinds of cryptography have
computing and its use in the areas of their own advantages and disadvantages
cryptography, steganography and and complement each other in future
authentication. practical application. The current main
difficulties of DNA cryptography are the
Research has been performed in both absence of effective secure theory and
cryptographic and steganographic simple realizable method. The main goal
situations with respect to DNA of the research of DNA cryptography is
computing but researchers are still exploring characteristics of DNA
looking at much more theory than molecule and reaction, establishing
practicality. The constraints of its high corresponding theories, discovering
tech lab requirements and computational possible development directions,
limitations combined with the labour searching for simple methods of
intensive extrapolation means, illustrate realizing DNA cryptography, and laying
that the field of DNA computing is far the basis for future development.
from any kind of efficient use in today’s
security world. DNA authentication on DNA NANOTECHNOLOGY
the other hand has exhibited great
promise with real world examples DNA nanotechnology is a branch of
already surfacing on the marketplace nanotechnology which uses the
today molecular recognition properties of
DNA and other nucleic acids to create
CRYPTOGRAPHY designed, artificial structures out of
DNA for technological purposes. In this
DNA cryptography is a new born field, DNA is used as a structural
cryptographic field emerged with the material rather than as a carrier of
research of DNA computing, in which genetic information, making it an
DNA is used as information carrier and example of bionanotechnology. DNA
the modern biological technology is used nanotechnology has applications in
as implementation tool. The vast molecular self-assembly and in DNA
parallelism and extraordinary computing.
information density inherent in DNA
molecules are explored for cryptographic Although DNA is usually considered in
purposes such as encryption, the context of molecular biology as the
authentication, signature, and so on. In carrier of genetic information in living
this paper, we briefly introduce the cells, DNA nanotechnology considers
biological background of DNA DNA solely as a chemical and as a
cryptography and the principle of DNA material, and is usually pursued outside
computing, summarize the progress of of any biological context. DNA
DNA cryptographic research and several nanotechnology makes use of the fact
key problems, discuss the trend of DNA that, due to the specificity of Watson-
cryptography, and compare the status, Crick base pairing, only portions of the
security and application fields of DNA strands which are complementary to
cryptography with those of traditional each other will bind to each other to
cryptography and quantum form duplex DNA. DNA
cryptography. It is pointed out that all nanotechnology attempts to rationally
design sets of DNA strands so that  DNA computers require human
desired portions of each strand will assistance.
assemble in the correct positions to for  Technological challenges remain
some desired target structure. before DNA computing. Researchers
need to develop techniques to reduce
Although the field is usually called DNA number of computational errors
nanotechnology, its principles apply produced by unwanted chemical
equally well to other nucleic acids such reactions with the DNA strands.
as RNA and PNA, and structures They need to eliminate, combine, or
incorporating these have been made. For accelerate the steps in processing the
this reason the field is occasionally DNA.
referred to as nucleic acid  The extrapolation and practical
nanotechnology computational environment required
are daunting. The ‘test tube’
environment used for DNA
computing is far from practical for
5. Advantages everyday use.
 To the naked eye, DNA computer looks
 The advantage of DNA approach like clear water solution in a test tube.
is that it works in parallel, processing There is no mechanical device. Hence
all possible answers simultaneously. to make the output visible, human
 DNA computing is an example manipulation is needed.
of computing at a molecular level,
potential a size limit that may never 7. Conclusion
be reached by the semiconductor The beauty of DNA
industry. research is found in the possibility of
 It can be used to solve a class of mankind’s utilization of its very life
problems that are difficult or building blocks to solve its most difficult
impossible to solve using traditional problems. DNA computing research is
computing methods. going so fast that its potential is still
 There is no power required for DNA emerging. Scientists and mathematicians
computing while the computation is around the world are now looking at the
taking place. The chemical bonds application of DNA computers to a
that are the building blocks of DNA whole range of “intractable” computing
happen without any outside power problems. In any case, we will not be
source. Its energy-efficiency is more tossing out those PCs for test tubes of
than a million times that of a PC. DNA anytime soon and the use of DNA
 DNA computing is a cost-effective computing in every walk of life is a long
method for solving complex way off!
computational problems.

6. Disadvantages 8. References
Websites:
 www.computer.howstuffworks.c
om
 www.users.aol.com/ibrandt/dna_
computer.html
 www.html
nationalgeographic.com
 www.cis.udel.edu
 www.hypography.com
 news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/
sci/tech