So we already have devices that can harness electricity from microorganisms, now what if the self powered bacteria could transfer information. A new technology from MIT uses bacteria as analog circuits, previously the same team have been able to use DNA in tiny organisms such as bacteria to store and read data. Combine all of these technologies and you have a self powering biological supercomputer. While we are still far away from this vision It’s awesome to imagine.
By combining genes that produce similar molecules in response to different inputs, the school’s scientists have created bacterial cells that perform basic math — the exact quantity or ratio of a given molecule is the answer. The approach offers a much wider range of results than a binary circuit (10,000 versus 2), and it exploits the cell enzymes’ inherent ratio awareness to do some of the hard work. MIT wants more variety in genetic ingredients before it can produce a truly universal system, but its work could lead to organic sensors that are much simpler and more precise than their digital peers.
That’s really not bad considering how early these experiments are. So what other advantages could this technology potentially have? Well, lets say your computer is damaged, if the computer itself is made from bacteria storing active data in the DNA, it could very well be able to repair itself.
“Almost all of the previous work in synthetic biology that we’re aware of has either focused on logic components or on memory modules that just encode memory. We think complex computation will involve combining both logic and memory, and that’s why we built this particular framework to do so,” says Timothy Lu, an MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering and senior author of the Nature Biotechnology paper.
Combined with flexible OLED screens I’m failry certain these technolgies in mobile devices would be revolutionary. A phone which is virtually indestructible and powers itself.