IBM is using DNA to ferry carbon nanotubes to make chips. Meanwhile, bug protein may soon be used to provide us with terabytes of data on a DVD. It all sounds so futuristic and creepy, but despite the fanfare, using biology as a storage medium or microfab is hard. Unlike a mechanical tool, biology adapts, morphs and can mutate, resulting in manufacturing problems.
However, there’s a reason science is pouring money and brainpower into proteins. DNA, which keeps terabytes of data tightly wrapped in a double helix packed inside every cell, is an incredibly efficient storage medium. With Moore’s Law demanding more transistors packed on a chip, the idea of DNA computers has taken hold as a means to get past 10 nanometers (right now chipmakers are starting their production of 45 nanometer chips). In other words, organic computing is poised to get a lot more organic.