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.

Paul Rothemund’s TED talks

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