The genome strikingly illustrates that chemical systems can store and process information to direct molecular activities and structure formation, raising the prospect that molecular programming of matter might be possible and put to practical use. A first step towards that goal is understanding how simple self-assembling systems use molecular interactions to encode and execute algorithms, and whether powerful computation programs can be implemented. Damien Woods et al. now report a set of 355 self-assembling DNA tiles that can be reprogrammed to implement many different algorithms, including copying, sorting, recognizing palindromes, electing a leader and counting to 63. This suggests that molecular self-assembly might serve as a reliable algorithmic component in future programmable chemical systems.
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