August 22, 2007

DNA controlled self assembly of nanoparticles

DNA is being used to control nanoparticle self assembly

Learning how to control and tailor the assembly of nanoparticles, which have dimensions on the order of billionths of a meter, could potentially lead to applications ranging from more efficient energy generation and data storage to cell-targeted systems for drug delivery. “We can synthesize nanoparticles with very well controlled optical, catalytic, and magnetic properties,” Maye said. “They are usually free-flowing in solution, but for use in a functional device, they have to be organized in three dimensions, or on surfaces, in a well-controlled manner. That’s where self assembly comes into play. We want the particles to do the work themselves.

The research group previously used rigid, double-stranded DNA to speed up and slow down the speed of nanoparticle assembly. Most recently, they also perfected a method for regulating the size of the resulting particle clusters by incorporating multiple types of DNA strands.


Snake Oil Baron said...

I have heard of the concept. It is nice to see that work continues on it.

I have always considered the idea of nano-machines actually constructing complex things like themselves or large objects by collective behavior to be difficult to swallow. The idea of a fabricator that makes components at different scales is a bit easier to envision. But this is one means of self assembly that actually sounds like it would have real applications.

It would be risky to try and pinpoint what the first or final applications will be though making new materials would be high on my list of guesses. A self-assembling scaffold might result in materials with improved strength to weight ratios - possibly with specific conductive or magnetic properties. One might grow substances where these and other properties vary in a specifically designed manner through the material.