DNA Nanotechnology: Construction of DNA architectures
More than 35 years ago, Ned Seeman founded the field of Structural DNA Nanotechnology. This area of chemistry uses the information inherent in DNA molecules for structural purposes. Branched DNA molecules that can be designed to self-assemble from synthetic strands are central to this effort. Cohesive ends allow them to assemble to produce polyhedra and nanotubes. In addition, DNA motifs have been used to produce 2D lattices that are characterized by atomic force microscopy. 3D lattices that are built the same way are studied by X-ray crystallography. The goal is to use DNA to scaffold other species, such as biological macromolecules and nanoelectronic components, such as organic semiconductors and nanoparticles. This program has led to a variety of nanomechanical devices, including a translator, walkers, nanorobots and a nanomechanical assembly line. Recently, we have produced 3D crystalline systems that can be made to change their colors. Other research involves DNA-based computation and self-replicating systems. A different program in the lab is concerned with characterizing intermediates in genetic recombination, particularly the recognition of homology, by the techniques of molecular biophysics.