Arizona State University researchers Hao Yan and Yan Liu harnessed the natural qualities of DNA and gold to manipulate the size and shape of nanotube structures.
The National Science Foundation connects the dots:
[Researchers] attached gold nanoparticles to DNA, taking advantage of its self-assembling biochemical properties to engineer nanotubes that form a number of different 3D structures. The researchers manipulated nanotube size and shape by changing the size of the gold particles attached to the DNA or the DNA structure itself. Anchi Cheng at the Scripps Research Institute contributed to the project by imaging the 3D conformations of nanotube structures using cryo-Electron Tomography
This National Science Foundation-supported research is published in the January 2 issue of Science magazine.
Yan is hopeful this groundbreaking work will serve as the foundation on which emerging fields and new technologies may be built. “Now that we have methods to alter the periodicity, diameter and chirality of nanotube formation, we can use what we have learned to control hierarchical assembly of these building blocks to create more complex 3D structures,” he said.
In the future, use of nanotubes may reduce the size of cell phones and other electronic devices even further. Scientists also envision using nanotubes for a number of biological applications including gene and drug delivery. Drugs or other treatments specifically delivered using nanotubes would target only affected tissues, potentially eliminating toxic side effects.
Abstract in Science: Control of Self-Assembly of DNA Tubules Through Integration of Gold Nanoparticles
Images: Top: The design of the DNA scaffold system permits formation of a variety of tubular structures carrying 5 nm AuNPs (gold particles). Researchers observed formation of tubes displaying patterns of AuNPs in stacked rings, single spirals, double spirals, and nested spiral tubes. This TEM image shows all four of these conformations. Side: This cartoon depicts a single nanotube formed from DNA tile arrays with gold particles attached.
NSF press statement: Mother Nature Knows Nano …