A Third Revolution in DNA Nanotechnology

by Eric Drexler on 2009/05/22

Examples of 3D DNA origami
3D structural DNA
Designs and TEM micrographs
(100 nm scale bars)

“Self-assembly of DNA into
nanoscale three-dimensional shapes”
SM Douglas, et al., Nature, 459:414–418 (2009).

In a new paper, Shawn Douglas and his colleagues at William Shih’s lab have demonstrated the first systematic method for building multilayer 3D nanostructures of DNA. In his commentary, Tom LaBean calls this “a third revolution in DNA nanotechnology”, following Seeman’s launch of the field and Rothemund’s development of the breakthrough origami technique.

In the authors’ words:

We anticipate that our strategy for self-assembling custom three-dimensional shapes will provide a general route to the manufacture of sophisticated devices bearing features on the nanometre scale.

This paper closely follows the report of 3D structural-DNA technique that demonstrated a way to build closed boxes from single-layer origami sheets (in a sense, the first folded DNA origami). What the new technique adds to the engineering toolkit is a way to bundle DNA helices into sturdier structures, and to use those structures as building blocks for yet larger structures.

This is a further step toward the development of a methodology for building atomically precise self-assembled structures in which DNA forms an addressable framework for organizing other components (nanotubes, quantum dots, proteins…) into functional systems (circuits, sensors, fabrication tools…). Tom LaBean himself has been a pioneer in developing these DNA-based composite systems, the leading approach in framework-directed self-assembly.

Here’s one more image from the paper, showing multiple views of an icosahedral framework. I saw this in William Shih’s talk at FNANO last year, and have been waiting to see it published:

DNA icosahedra

See also:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

marie May 26, 2009 at 10:06 am UTC


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Jeffrey Soreff May 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm UTC

Nice! Any word on how stiff the structures are? Has anyone pushed on one with an AFM?

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