New DNA-driven processes that allow nanoparticles to assemble themselves into “designer materials” will prove important to creating new materials with unique electrical, optical, mechanical or transport properties, according to Alex Travesset of Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory.
"Nanoparticle self-assembly has entered the LEGO era," says Travesset an associate professor of physics and astronomy and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory. . "You can really work with nanoparticles in the same way you can work with LEGOs. This represents a breakthrough in the way we can manipulate matter. Really revolutionary applications will come," he added.
Travesset noted work by Northwestern University scientists exploring new techniques to use complementary DNA strands to link nanoparticles and to control how these particles can precisely self-assemble into target structures. The work, he said, is "likely to elevate DNA-programmed self-assembly into a technique for the design of nanoparticle structures a la carte.”
Travesset’s remarks appear in the Oct. 14the issue of the journal Science.