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De Novo Biomachines

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[Technical Report, Final Report]

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The aim of this project is to design and synthesize bioinspired functional modules forinformation processing, to assemble these modules into functional elements, to characterizetheir performance, and to use theory to understand the observed function and to refine theperformance. The project involves the close collaboration among theory, molecular andmacromolecular design, synthesis, and state-of-the-art physical characterization methods thatinclude fast and ultrafast dynamical experiments that interrogate charge and ion transport. Theproject will create functional assemblies based on de novo protein modules that will movecharge across distances from nanometers to micrometers. The flow of electrons will trigger thepolarization or depolarization of trans-membrane ionic concentration gradients. We will alsoexplore the capture of mechanical energy to drive charge flow. The project will thus establishde novo modules building blocks that can be assembled into simple circuits that mimic theelementary processes of biological neural processing and may enable high- efficiency neurallikecomputation. The appeal of this approach is that it will define an enabling technology forthe rapid manufacture of information processing networks e.g., via printing of bioinspired denovo designed components that circumvents the energetically wasteful need to maintain ahost of ancillary cellular functions that do not directly contribute to neural computation tasksof interest.

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[A, Approved For Public Release]