Professor Dave Doty at the Wilson Lecture Series - ECE Fall 2021 Colloquium

Crystals that think about how they're growing

Biology offers inspiring examples of molecules that can process information to regulate the machinery of life, yet lacks design principles for manufacturing them. Much of synthetic biology relies on "alien technology": evolved proteins that, had evolution not furnished them, we would not know how to design.

DNA nanotechnology offers a different approach, enabling design of smart molecular systems from first principles. We report the design and experimental validation of a self-assembling DNA tile set containing 355 single-stranded tiles, reprogrammable by tile selection to implement a wide variety of 6-bit algorithms, including copying, sorting, recognizing palindromes and multiples of 3, random walking, obtaining an unbiased choice from a biased random source, electing a leader, simulating Turing-universal cellular automata, and serving as a period 63 counter. The system is quite reliable: averaged across the 21 implemented circuits, the per-tile error rate is less than 1 in 3000.

Bio of professor Dave Doty

David Doty is an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis. He is broadly interested in problems at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and computation. This does not mean the traditional "computation in service of natural science" (e.g., bioinformatics, computational chemistry, or molecular dynamics simulation). Rather, certain molecular systems — such as a test tube of reacting chemicals, a genetic regulatory network, or a growing crystal — can be interpreted as doing computation themselves... natural science in service of computation. He seeks to understand the fundamental logical and physical limits to computation by such means.


Start date
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, 4 p.m.
End date
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, 5 p.m.