Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) wrapped by a DNA helix have been thought for years to offer unique biochemical and physical properties for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic devices. Recent spate of research into the nature of these hybrid nanostructures offers a new level of understanding, that hopefully will bear tangible results for the future of medicine, writes nanoBLOG‘s Michael Berger.
The National Science Foundation in the U.S. last year awarded a $1.25 million, 4-year research grant to develop new methods of manipulating CNTs in solution. Much of the project’s focus will be on the use of single-walled CNTs wrapped with single-stranded DNA. The DNA-CNT hybrid has proven effective in CNT dispersion and researchers hope it will also aid in sorting and placing the tubes.
“Beside CNTs wrapped by DNAs, other kinds of CNT-DNA hybrids also exhibit a big potential for applications” Dr. Gotthard Seifert explains to Nanowerk. “Other noncovalent complexes of CNTs and DNA consist of hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts and can be useful in stabilizing emulsions and in producing water-based liquid crystals. DNA-decorated carbon nanotubes may be used in analytical chemistry and biochemistry in sensor applications. DNA-wrapped CNTs will also play an important role in the development of miniaturized field-effect transistors (FETs) where DNA molecules can be templates to provide a precise localization of a semiconducting CNT in the production of a FET. Last but not least, covalently linked adducts of the DNA and carbon nanotubes are able to self-assemble via DNA-modified gold nanoparticles into structures such as CNT-based nanocircuits.”