Issue 11, 2015

Molecular computing: paths to chemical Turing machines


To comply with the rapidly increasing demand of information storage and processing, new strategies for computing are needed. The idea of molecular computing, where basic computations occur through molecular, supramolecular, or biomolecular approaches, rather than electronically, has long captivated researchers. The prospects of using molecules and (bio)macromolecules for computing is not without precedent. Nature is replete with examples where the handling and storing of data occurs with high efficiencies, low energy costs, and high-density information encoding. The design and assembly of computers that function according to the universal approaches of computing, such as those in a Turing machine, might be realized in a chemical way in the future; this is both fascinating and extremely challenging. In this perspective, we highlight molecular and (bio)macromolecular systems that have been designed and synthesized so far with the objective of using them for computing purposes. We also present a blueprint of a molecular Turing machine, which is based on a catalytic device that glides along a polymer tape and, while moving, prints binary information on this tape in the form of oxygen atoms.

Graphical abstract: Molecular computing: paths to chemical Turing machines

Article information

Article type
26 Jun 2015
06 Aug 2015
First published
06 Aug 2015
This article is Open Access

All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Creative Commons BY license

Chem. Sci., 2015,6, 6050-6058

Author version available

Molecular computing: paths to chemical Turing machines

S. Varghese, J. A. A. W. Elemans, A. E. Rowan and R. J. M. Nolte, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 6050 DOI: 10.1039/C5SC02317C

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