18 February 2013

DNA Nanotechnology: Building Matter and Controlling Architecture of DNA Building Blocks

Chad A. Mirkin of Northwestern University has developed a process to build artificial nanostructures with customized properties in a highly programmable way from the bottom up, just like how nature does it.

Advances in nanotechnology have opened up the development and application of artificial nanostructures. Nanostructures give support, assist in a process, or brings out a particular property from a created device.

There are two types of nanostructures, structural and dynamic. Structural nanostructures are used as a foundation for building more complex structures. Dynamic structures are built to react and interact with a specific target in a chemical or structural way.

Just like Lego building blocks, nanostructures can be made up of smaller structures. Each component either contributes to the overall application or serves as the backbone of the structure itself.

These are very useful in many applications. In the medical field, nanostructures can be used as a container for drug delivery. These structures can be built to react to a certain protein and release the drug inside for treatment of diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's Disease.

Nanostructures can also be applied to industrial purposes. Recently, MIT researchers have created a nanostructure surface that influence the way water droplets behave on condensers for more efficient performance.

Artificial atoms, Nanoparticles, and DNA

Northwestern University's Chad A. Mirkin, a world-renowned leader in nanotechnology research and its application, has developed a completely new set of building blocks that is based on nanoparticles and DNA. Using these tools, scientists will be able to build -- from the bottom up, just as nature does -- new and useful structures.

Mirkin will discuss his research in a session titled "Nucleic Acid-Modified Nanostructures as Programmable Atom Equivalents: Forging a New Periodic Table" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston. The presentation will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, in Room 302 of the Hynes Convention Center.

"We have a new set of building blocks," Mirkin said. "Instead of taking what nature gives you, we can control every property of the new material we make. We've always had this vision of building matter and controlling architecture from the bottom up, and now we've shown it can be done."

Using nanoparticles and DNA, Mirkin has built more than 200 different crystal structures with 17 different particle arrangements. Some of the lattice types can be found in nature, but he also has built new structures that have no naturally occurring mineral counterpart.

Video: Nanostructure Building Blocks

Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering. He is director of Northwestern's International Institute for Nanotechnology.

Mirkin can make new materials and arrangements of particles by controlling the size, shape, type and location of nanoparticles within a given particle lattice. He has developed a set of design rules that allow him to control almost every property of a material.

New materials developed using his method could help improve the efficiency of optics, electronics and energy storage technologies. "These same nanoparticle building blocks have already found wide-spread commercial utility in biology and medicine as diagnostic probes for markers of disease," Mirkin added.

With this present advance, Mirkin uses nanoparticles as "atoms" and DNA as "bonds." He starts with a nanoparticle, which could be gold, silver, platinum or a quantum dot, for example. The core material is selected depending on what physical properties the final structure should have.

He then attaches hundreds of strands of DNA (oligonucleotides) to the particle. The oligonucleotide's DNA sequence and length determine how bonds form between nanoparticles and guide the formation of specific crystal lattices.

"This constitutes a completely new class of building blocks in materials science that gives you a type of programmability that is extraordinarily versatile and powerful," Mirkin said. "It provides nanotechnologists for the first time the ability to tailor properties of materials in a highly programmable way from the bottom up."


Northwestern University
Nucleic Acid-Modified Nanostructures as Programmable Atom Equivalents: Forging a New Periodic Table
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Creating Nanostructures From The Atomic Level Up
New Advancements In DNA Nanotechnology Lead To Development of Practical Applications
MIT News: Increasing Heat Coefficients on Industrial Plant Condensers Through Nanotechnology
DNA Nanotechnology To Create Programmable Nanodevices For Drug Delivery Created
Fungi Produces Nanoparticles That Can Help Fight Cancer Cells
MIT News: Manipulating Heat Using Lenses and Mirrors
Graphene Plasmonics Lead To Development of Molecular Sensitive Sensing Devices
Thermodynamics Used To Grow Nanorods Into Superparticles With Precision
Seven Scientists Receive 2012 Kavli Prize In The Fields of Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience