Researchers claim it is possible to build a super-fast computer that "grows as it computes".
A team of scientists, led by professor Ross D King from the University of Manchester, has demonstrated the feasibility of engineering a nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM). DNA molecules are small, highly stable and come with self-replicating abilities, making them ideal candidates for the processors of future organic computers.
King said the processors of the computer are made of DNA, rather than silicon chips.
Current computers perform a limited number of calculations as they have a finite number of chips fixed inside them. A device that can copy itself to perform several calculations simultaneously can, at least in theory, compute faster and with more accuracy than traditional computers.
"Imagine a computer is searching a maze and comes to a choice point, one path leading left, the other right. Electronic computers need to choose which path to follow first," explained King, from Manchester's School of Computer Science.
"But our new computer doesn't need to choose, for it can replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster.
"Quantum computers are an exciting other form of computer, and they can also follow both paths in a maze, but only if the maze has certain symmetries, which greatly limits their use" added King.
A desktop computer equipped with DNA molecules could process more data for less power than electronic computers. It can "therefore outperform the world's current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy," King added.
The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.