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DNA Backbone Assists Nanocrystal Formation

By January 30, 2011

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DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) has become a household name, known for being the biopolymer that comprises our genes and contains the code for how we're formed and how our bodies operate. What you may not know, is the characteristics of DNA have also made it a useful tool in nanotechnology for controlling how nanoparticle clusters are formed in the laboratory. Since DNA consists of pairs of nucleotide bases, researchers can make synthetic DNA strands capped with different types of nanoparticles, and create aggregates of a desired structure by allowing the DNA to hybridize with complementary strands. This technique was presented in 2007 at the 234th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society by Dr. Mathew Maye of the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Recently, researchers from University of Rochester Medical Center, Scripps Research Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a paper in Nature Materials describing the first time a lattice was made using a combination of nano-sized metal particles (gold in this case) and organic materials (viral particles). The gold and viral phage capsid particles repel each other, but by stragetically placing them on DNA strands that attract one another, a rigid crystal structure can be created, with potential uses in optical computing and telecommunications.


Cigler, P. et al. 2010. DNA-controlled assembly of a NaTl lattice structure from gold nanoparticles and protein nanoparticles. Nature Materials, 2010; 9 (11): 918. DOI:10.1038/nmat2877.

Biotech Terms You Should Know

How Genes were Discovered

How DNA is Sequenced


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