3D DNA-Directed Nanoassembly

If you're not satisfied with the materials provided by nature, why not build your own materials - from the atoms on up? Three-dimensional nanoassembly has now been accomplished by two different teams from Northwestern University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"The crystal structures are deliberately designed," says Northwestern's Chad Mirkin, one of the materials scientists who pioneered DNA linking in the 1990s and a coauthor of one of today's reports. "This is a new way of making things."

Until now, attempts to program nanoparticle self-assembly in three dimensions has produced mostly disordered clumps. The two teams have overcome the problems involved by using longer DNA strands that give the particles more flexibility during crystal formation.

Here's how it works:

While the details of the Northwestern and Brookhaven systems differ, both pad out their DNA strands with sequences that act as spacers and flexors, in addition to complementary sequences on the DNA ends that bind particles together. The groups start by binding one of two types of DNA to gold nanoparticles. The DNA types are complementary to each other. These two pools of modified particles are then mixed and cooled. DNA strands with complementary DNA form a double helix, tying together their respective nanoparticles, while identical DNA strands act like springs to repel their respective particles. The spacers on each DNA strand, meanwhile, allow bound particles to twist and bend so each particle in the mix can bind the largest number of complementary particles.

The result is exactly what theory predicts: a crystal lattice in which each particle of one type is surrounded by eight of the others marking the corners of a cube.


(Gold nanoparticles programmed self-assembly
Sequences of DNA attached to gold nanoparticles (upper image) program the particles’ self-assembly into novel crystals (lower image). X-ray diffraction confirms the crystals--partly squashed by the electron microscopy that produced these images--to be perfect lattices of tens of thousands of particles.)

As far as I know, the first mention of trying to make something with individual atoms was in A Menace in Miniature, a 1937 story by early sf great Raymond Z. Gallun.

"With the Scarab as big as a beetle, I could make a Scarab as big as a sand grain. This second Scarab could build a miniature of itself, as big as a dust grain. The third Scarab could construct a fourth, bearing the same proportions as the first to the second, or the second to the third. And so on, down, to the limit imposed by the ultimate indivisibility of the atoms themselves."
(Read more about Gallun's ultra-microrobots)

While we're waiting for researchers to perfect self-assembly at the nano level, there are other methods. Nanoassembly can also be done by "hand" - or by "nanohand." Take a look at this remarkable video of a nanohand constructing a nanodevice with nanofibers.

From Researchers create three-dimensional structures using DNA-directed assembly via Smart Economy.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/5/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

New Material Absorbs and Stores Solar Energy
'The light that is thus trapped can be released by making a small spark near the glass.' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'... lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

3D Printing Of Metallic Glass
Great Scott!

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Implantable Covid-Detecting Microchip Developed By DARPA
'Employees... were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'

Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'

Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'

Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'It’s an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'

Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'

3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.