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Advancing the Science of DNA Sequencing

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In an effort to build a nanoscale DNA sequencer, IBM scientists are drilling nano-sized holes in computer-like chips and passing DNA strands through them in order to read the information contained within their genetic code.

News releases
Date Title
06 Oct 2009 IBM Research Aims to Build Nanoscale DNA Sequencer to Help Drive Down Cost of Personalized Genetic Analysis


  • DNA Transitor schematic

    Schematics of the DNA transistor operation for the control of the translocation of a DNA through a nanopore

    Date added: 06 Oct 2009

    A membrane containing the nanopore, funtionalized with metal contacts (orange) separated by dielectric materials (lime), devides a reservoir into a top part containing an ionic solution with a high concentration of single stranded DNA, and a bottom part, where the DNA will be translocated to. The DNA on the top reservoir is induced to go to the bottom reservoir by the action of a biasing voltage. In the absence of anything else, the DNA would translocate through the pore at a speed of several million bases per second. To control the passage of DNA trhough the nano-hole, voltages of appropriate polarity (not shown) are applied to the metal contacts inside the pore, which create an internal electric field that trap the DNA. By alternating the trapping voltages applied to the metal contacts, the DNA can be made ratchet from the top to the bottom reservoirs in a controlled way.

  • DNA transistor animation

    A cross section of IBM's DNA Transistor

    Date added: 06 Oct 2009

    A cross section of IBM's DNA Transistor simulated on Blue Gene supercomputer showing a single stranded DNA moving in the midst of (invisible) water molecules through the nanopore. The DNA molecule, at the center of the pore, contain the bases A, C, G and T, that code of biological information necessary for life.

Contact(s) for the Press kit

Michael Loughran
IBM Media Relations