Research Projects NTT-MIT Research Collaboration: a partnership in the future of communication and computation

Digital Control and Communication in Living Cells


Start date: 07/99

Tom Knight and Gerry Sussman

Hitoshi Hemmi

Project summary

Digital logic and communications can be embedded into living cells, allowing engineered and programmed chemical sensing and control.

Project description


Existing electronic technology is awkward and inefficient in interfacing to the chemical world. For many applications including health, environmental sensing and control, and nanoscale fabrication, we need access to much better chemical interfacing. One approach to this goal is the use of biological systems as a control mechanism.

In this research, we are designing, building, and testing digital logic and communications circuits in living cells. By judicious construction of circular DNA plasmids, inserted into E. coli bacteria, we add controlled protein fabrication instructions directing the construction of sensors, gates, and effectors.

Demos, movies and other examples

The principal investigators

Presentations and posters


Proposals and progress reports


NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, July to December 1999:

NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, January to June 2000:

NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, January to June 2001:

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