Biocomputation

Replacing electrons with filaments

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Science  11 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1163-1164
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6278.1163-g

Conventional computers struggle with problems that require them to explore a large number of potential solutions; as the size of the problem grows, the computational time may quickly reach the age of the universe. Nicolau Jr. et al. offer an inherently parallel approach to solving such problems. Using the so-called subset sum problem as an illustration, the authors built a proof-of-principle device in which biological filaments, such as actin and microtubules, performed the computation. Powered by molecular motors, the filaments moved along a network of nanostructured channels tailored to the problem, and the solutions were read off from the positions at which they exited the network.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1510825113 (2016).

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