Nanostructures Created With DNA
A new method for constructing nanostructures involves using strands of programmable DNA, which then assemble themselves into the desired pattern.The researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have created single stranded tiles that can arrange themselves into letters, numbers, or emoticons.
DNA nanotechnology is a growing field in which DNA is being used as material to build nano-sized programmable structures. Traditionally, a single long strand of DNA to which other structures and materials can attach themselves to.
Like Us on Facebook
Study leader Peng Yin, Ph.D and his team decided to use short strands rather than long strands, and created single stranded tiles.These tiles can only interlock with each other if they contain complementary strands of DNA. If they do not, the strands will simply not connect. Thus, by making these strands all have certain sequences of DNA, programmable shapes and letters are possible through these interlocking local connections.
The researchers demonstrated by showing off more than 100 different designs, including Chinese characters. A single "structure" 100 nanamoeters in size (one-billionth of a meter) required hundreds of tiny single stranded tiles.
The applications for such manipulation on such a small level are endless.
For instance, in medicine, these single stranded tiles could become delivery systems for drugs or genetic treatments. The tiles themselves are highly organic, and would pose a much less risk than a nanobot or any other foreign material.
"Use of DNA nanotechnology to create programmable nanodevices is an important focus at the Wyss Institute, because we believe so strongly in its potential to produce a paradigm-shifting approach to development of new diagnostics and therapeutics," said Wyss Founding Director, Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.