Chemists have integrated computer functions into DNA-based motors: they have opened up a field in which they will use miniature molecular robots.

These are the first works based on DNA, they can perform calculations, as well as burn fuel and move in a given direction. Devices can take in chemical information in the environment, process it, and then respond appropriately, mimicking some of the basic properties of living cells.

They can be programmed to respond to a specific pathogen or DNA sequence. Therefore, potentially robots can be used for medical testing and diagnostics.

Another important achievement is that each engine can work independently, even if a group is involved at once. According to the authors, such a feature will help create an array of micron-sized engines to perform various tasks and provide communication between them.

The ability of DNA engines to interact with each other is a step towards creating processes similar to how ants or bacteria move around.

Khalid Salayta, senior author and professor of chemistry at Emory University.

DNA nanotechnology exploits how DNA bases naturally interact and connect with each other. By moving bases on synthetic strands of DNA, scientists can make them bind to each other in ways that create different shapes and even functioning devices.