Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Assisting self-assembly - DNA cages guide nanoparticle self-assembly

New Scientist - March 17, 2009, by Jessica Griggs

TRAPPING nanoparticles in cages made of DNA could finally allow them to self-assemble into transistors, metamaterials and even tiny robots. The technique should prevent the nanoparticles clumping together at random, one of the biggest problems with nanoscale self-assembly.

One idea for making nanoscale building kits is to coat gold nanoparticles with short sequences of single-stranded DNA. The idea is to design the DNA strands in such a way that they will bond with other strands and join the nanoparticles together in a 3D structure. But the technique has never worked well because the random position of the DNA strands on the nanoparticles makes them tend to stick together in clumps.

Now, Alexei Tkachenko and Nicolas Licata from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, have come up with a solution: trap the nanoparticles in a cage where the bars are made of DNA, and then stack the cages to form nanostructures.

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