Design and fabrication of networks for bacterial computing

Falco C.M.J.M. Van Delft, Ayyappasamy Sudalaiyadum Perumal, Anja Van Langen-Suurling, Charles De Boer, Ondřej Kašpar, Viola Tokárová, Frank W.A. Dirne, Dan V. Nicolau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Non-deterministic polynomial (NP-) complete problems, whose number of possible solutions grows exponentially with the number of variables, require by necessity massively parallel computation. Because sequential computers, such as solid state-based ones, can solve only small instances of these problems within a reasonable time frame, parallel computation using motile biological agents in nano- and micro-scale networks has been proposed as an alternative computational paradigm. Previous work demonstrated that protein molecular motors-driven cytoskeletal filaments are able to solve a small instance of an NP complete problem, i.e. the subset sum problem, embedded in a network. Autonomously moving bacteria are interesting alternatives to these motor driven filaments for solving such problems, because they are easier to operate with, and have the possible advantage of biological cell division. Before scaling up to large computational networks, bacterial motility behaviour in various geometrical structures has to be characterised, the stochastic traffic splitting in the junctions of computation devices has to be optimized, and the computational error rates have to be minimized. In this work, test structures and junctions have been designed, fabricated, tested, and optimized, leading to specific design rules and fabrication flowcharts, resulting in correctly functioning bio-computation networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085009
Number of pages12
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • biocomputation
  • e-beam lithography
  • E. coli
  • microfluidics
  • motile bacteria
  • nanofabrication


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