Paul Rothemund folds DNA into shapes and patterns. Which is a simple enough thing to say, but the process he has developed has vast implications for computing and manufacturing — allowing us to create things we can now only dream of.

Why you should listen

Paul Rothemund won a MacArthur grant this year for a fairly mystifying study area: "folding DNA." It brings up the question: Why fold DNA? The answer is -- because the power to manipulate DNA in this way could change the way we make things at a very basic level.

Rothemund's work combines the study of self-assembly (watch the TEDTalks from Neil Gershenfeld and Saul Griffith for more on this) with the research being done in DNA nanotechnology -- and points the way toward self-assembling devices at microscale, making computer memory, for instance, smaller, faster and maybe even cheaper.

More news and ideas from Paul Rothemund

The immense promise of DNA folding: Paul Rothemund on

September 2, 2008

At TED2007, Paul Rothemund gave TED a short summary of DNA folding (calling it a process akin to magic). Now, he lays out in clear, adundant detail the immense promise of this field — to create tiny machines that assemble themselves from a set of instructions. (Recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 16:24.)   […]

Continue reading

Tiny battery made of self-assembling viruses

August 20, 2008

MIT reports today on the work of professors Yet-Ming Chiang, Angela Belcher and Paula Hammond, who’ve developed a way to build tiny batteries about half the size of a human cell to power tomorrow’s equally tiny devices. The electrolyte of the battery is made of polymers stamped onto a rubbery film. On top of this, […]

Continue reading

TED2008: What is life?

February 28, 2008

(Unedited running notes from the TED2008 conference in Monterey, California. Third session.) Alisa Miller, head of Public Radio International, introduces the session with a 3-minutes talk on how America perceives the rest of the world and how the news shape the way the US sees the world. She pulls up a map of the number […]

Continue reading