DNA to help organize nanoparticles

New technique could facilitate use of gold nanoparticles in electronic applications. Gold nanoparticles have unusual electronic properties, which scientists have been seeking how to put to use.

With particles that are just millionths of an inch in size they are too small to be manipulated by conventional lab tools, so a major challenge has been finding ways to assemble these bits of gold while controlling the three-dimensional shape of their arrangement.

In results reported online in Nature Chemistry, researchers from McGill’s Department of Chemistry outline a procedure for making a DNA structure, their researchers have developed a system to use tiny structures made from synthetic strands of DNA to help organize nanoparticles.

When a gold nanoparticle is brought into contact to the DNA nanostructure, it sticks to the patches. The scientists then dissolve the assembly in distilled water, separating the DNA nanostructure into its component strands and leaving behind the DNA imprint on the gold nanoparticle. (See illustration.) 

Now, the McGill researchers hope their new production technique will help pave the way for use of DNA-encoded nanoparticles in a range of cutting-edge technologies. First author Thomas Edwardson says the next step for the lab will be to investigate the properties of structures made from these new building blocks. “In much the same way that atoms combine to form complex molecules, patterned DNA gold particles can connect to neighbouring particles to form well-defined nanoparticle assemblies.

“Transfer of molecular recognition information from DNA nanostructures to gold nanoparticles,”; 
Thomas G. W. Edwardson et al, Nature Chemistry, Jan. 4, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2420 

Original article by 
McGill University – Montréal, Québec, Canada 

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