The research, done by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Scripps Research Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was published recently in Nature Materials.
While people commonly think of DNA as a blueprint for life, the team used DNA instead as a tool to guide the precise positioning of tiny particles just one-millionth of a centimeter across, using DNA to chaperone the particles.
Sung Yong Park, Ph.D.Central to the work is the unique attraction of each of DNA’s four chemical bases to just one other base. The scientists created specific pieces of DNA and then attached them to gold nanoparticles and viral particles, choosing the sequences and positioning them exactly to force the particles to arrange themselves into a crystal lattice.
When scientists mixed the particles, out of the brew emerged a sodium thallium crystal lattice. The device “self assembled” or literally built itself.
The research adds some welcome flexibility to the toolkit that scientists have available to create nano-sized devices.
“Organic materials interact in ways very different from metal nanoparticles. The fact that we were able to make such different materials work together and be compatible in a single structure demonstrates some new opportunities for building nano-sized devices,” said Sung Yong Park, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Rochester.
Park and M.G Finn, Ph.D., of Scripps Research Institute are corresponding authors of the paper.
Such a crystal lattice is potentially a central ingredient to a device known as a photonic crystal, which can manipulate light very precisely, blocking certain colors or wavelengths of light while letting other colors pass. While 3-D photonic crystals exist that can bend light at longer wavelengths, such as the infrared, this lattice is capable of manipulating visible light. Scientists foresee many applications for such crystals, such as optical computing and telecommunications, but manufacturing and durability remain serious challenges.
It was three years ago that Park, as part of a larger team of colleagues at Northwestern University, first produced a crystal lattice with a similar method, using DNA to link gold nanospheres. The new work is the first to combine particles with such different properties – hard gold nanoparticles and more flexible organic particles.
Within the new structure, there are actually two distinct forces at work, Park said. The gold particles and the viral particles repel each other, but their deterrence is countered by the attraction between the strategically placed complementary strands of DNA. Both phenomena play a role in creating the rigid crystal lattice. It’s a little bit like how countering forces keep our curtains up: A spring in a curtain rod pushes the rod to lengthen, while brackets on the window frame counter that force, creating a taut, rigid device.
Other authors of the paper include Abigail Lytton-Jean, Ph.D., of MIT, Daniel Anderson, Ph.D., of Harvard and MIT, and Petr Cigler, Ph.D., formerly of Scripps Research Institute and now at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Park’s work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.For Media Inquiries:
Tom Rickey | EurekAlert!
'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy