Despite an exponential increase in computing power over the past decades, present information technology falls far short of expectations in areas such as cognitive systems and micro robotics. Organisms demonstrate that it is possible to implement information processing in a radically different way from what we have available in present technology, and that there are clear advantages from the perspective of power consumption, integration density, and real-time processing of ambiguous data. Accordingly, the question whether the current silicon substrate and associated computing paradigm is the most suitable approach to all types of computation has come to the fore. Macromolecular materials, so successfully employed by nature, possess uniquely promising properties as an alternate substrate for information processing. The two key features of macromolecules are their conformational dynamics and their self-assembly capabilities. The purposeful design of macromolecules capable of exploiting these features has proven to be a challenge, however, for some groups of molecules it is increasingly practicable. We here introduce an algorithm capable of designing groups self-assembling of nucleic acid molecules with multiple conformational states. Evaluation using natural and artificially designed nucleic acid molecules favours this algorithm significantly, as compared to the probabilistic approach. Furthermore, the thermodynamic properties of the generated candidates are within the same approximation as the customised trans-acting switching molecules reported in the laboratory.
- Molecular computer
- Ribonucleic acids (RNA)