Biomolecular Vision

Contact: Professor Lasse Lensu

Molecular computing is a relatively new field of science where novel computing approaches are searched from the domain of molecules and atoms. More specifically, the aim is to understand how to control molecular reactions for information processing. Despite the fact that the Moore's "law" still holds, these studies are motivated by the increasing technical difficulties to further develop the CMOS transistors as the building blocks of computing devices. These difficulties are already realising because the microelectronics industry has already pushed multicore and other parallel architectures to the market.

Biomolecules offer several advantages over synthetic ones. In their natural environment, their functionality and robustness is usually close to optimal due to evolutionary steps during the development of their structure and function. Therefore, many things can be learned from nature by studying the biomolecules and their interactions. Most of the studies concerning information processing using biomolecules have concentrated in DNA and photoactive biomolecules, for example, rhodopsins, chloroplasts, photosynthetic reaction centers and light-harvesting complexes, and retinal proteins. Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) is a retinal protein which has been intensively studied and proposed for various applications.

Featured projects

MolComp

The purpose of MolComp is to study biomolecules and their usage in technical applications and information processing. The goal of MolComp is to understand especially the photoelectric functionality of bacteriorhodopsin and its applicability to implement colour-sensitive artificial retina.

Molecular computing has been studied in Lappeenranta from the year 1995. The research group has participated to the national nanotechnology research program funded by the Academy of Finland, and material science technology program funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The most important results up till now are as follows:

  1. Cultivation of the archaea, Halobacterium salinarum as the source of bacteriorhodopsin, and preparation of bacteriorhodopsin-in-polyvinylalcohol thick films.
  2. Single-element optoelectronic sensors based on wild-type BR and its variants.

    Single-element optoelectronic
element based on wild-type BR

  3. Colour-sensitive digital camera based on three types of BR.

    Camera matrix based on
wild-type BR Camera matrix based on
three types of BR

  4. Models for colour vision systems based on, e.g., BR.
  5. Simulation environment for the reduced photocycle of BR.