In Brief
New research on DNA transformations from the University of East Anglia just might make nano-scale computing possible.
  • Scientists have found a way to “switch” the structure of DNA using copper salts and an acid known as EDTA, which is found in some household products such as shampoo.
  • It was already known that DNA could change to an “i-motif” shape with the application of acid, but the new discovery can perform a second transformation into a hair pin structure using copper cations. This can also be reversed by using EDTA.

1395404338188Hairpin and i-Motif structures; Image by Chemical & Engineering News

  • This DNA-based computer can be used for applications in nanotechnology, using the DNA to make tiny machines,  and DNA-based computing. It can also detect the presence of copper ions, which are highly toxic to fish.