The April 14, 2000 issue of the journal Science contains a report that conjures up thoughts of "Weird Science". It appears that researchers have discovered that DNA can bend tiny silicon "fingers" that have a thickness of less than 1/50 of a human hair. By observing the way different fingers bend as DNA adheres to them, the researchers have been able to detect defects in the DNA sequence.
The discovery that DNA and other proteins can bend silicon structures can be applied in many ways. "Microbots and nanobots have been popularized in recent science fiction stories and movies, but technological issues remain an obstacle to their realization," said James Gimzewski of IBM Research.
The group's discovery of the ability of biology to perform mechanical tasks on the nanometer scale using silicon, provides a completely new approach to operate machinery autonomously without external power or computer control. IBM has found a way to make the DNA do the work without batteries or motors to operate the machines.
The scientific report can be found in Science, Vol 288, Number 5464, April 14, 2000. The report is entitled "Translating Biomolecular Recognition into Nanomechanics." To learn more about micro- and nanosystems, the following Web sites might be helpful: