EMV Associates, a private biomolecular engineering firm in Rockville, has been acquired by Gentronix Laboratories, a separate company owned by EMV's founders.

Through a complex financial arrangement, EMV will be able to secure additional funds for research from Gentronix, company officials said. EMV is seeking to develop a "biochip"--electronic circuitry based on properties of organic materials that could be used to create a new generation of high-speed, multi-level computers.

"This gives us money to continue our research," said James H. McAlear, an EMV founder.

The company holds an exclusive-use license to a patent used to fabricate an organic molecular layer that can conduct electricity--reportedly a key step to the creation of a biocomputer.

However, the company says, the true biochip is many years off. Some experts in the field doubt that such a chip could be developed within the next decade, if ever.

EMV Associates was founded in 1972 by scientist McAlear and engineer Jim Wehrung, as a small research and development outfit. In 1981, the two created Gentronix Inc. as the commercial arm to market EMV discoveries.

Earlier this year, Gentronix went public under the name of Pleistocene Inc. Pleistocene was an investment "shell" through which Gentronix raised $377,000 after expenses with an offering of 5 million shares of Pleistocene common stock. The company now carries the Gentronix name.

Yesterday, Gentronix exchanged 16.7 million shares for all outstanding shares of EMV. The market value of the 16.7 million shares is $12 million, the company says.

The acquisition, says McAlear, the company's president and chief research officer, "is a merger with an existing publicly traded investment shell. It's a way of going public."

In essence, says McAlear, merging with Pleistocene in March was a way for Gentronix to move from being a private company to one traded over-the-counter.

It also puts the company in a position to issue more stock, should it choose to do so.