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Published December 2005 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Two computational primitives for algorithmic self-assembly: Copying and counting


Copying and counting are useful primitive operations for computation and construction. We have made DNA crystals that copy and crystals that count as they grow. For counting, 16 oligonucleotides assemble into four DNA Wang tiles that subsequently crystallize on a polymeric nucleating scaffold strand, arranging themselves in a binary counting pattern that could serve as a template for a molecular electronic demultiplexing circuit. Although the yield of counting crystals is low, and per-tile error rates in such crystals is roughly 10%, this work demonstrates the potential of algorithmic self-assembly to create complex nanoscale patterns of technological interest. A subset of the tiles for counting form information-bearing DNA tubes that copy bit strings from layer to layer along their length.

Additional Information

© 2005 American Chemical Society. Received October 14, 2005; Revised Manuscript Received October 29, 2005. Publication Date (Web): November 23, 2005. For useful discussions we thank Rebecca Schulman and Deborah Fygenson. We thank the Caltech Molecular Materials Research Center for use of their AFM scanners. R.D.B. was partially supported by a Thomas E. Everhart Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). P.W.K.R. was supported by a Beckman Fellowship and Moore Center for the Physics of Information postdoctoral fellowship. E.W. acknowledges National Science Foundation awards 0093486 and 0432193.

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