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Construction on the nanoscale with DNA stars

DNA is nature’s hard-drive, able to store the information required to create all life. It exists in nature as a double helix, with two strands entwined and held together through Watson-Crick base pairing.

The same properties which make DNA such an effective information storage medium also make it a convenient material for the construction of nanoscale structures. The incredibly specific binding between bases can be exploited to design 1D, 2D, and 3D nanoscale structures.  As the understanding of the physical properties of nucleic acids has developed, researchers have become better able to exploit these properties to develop a host of artificial nanostructures based on the controlled interactions of nucleic acids.

In my research I aim to design and build crystalline networks using DNA ‘stars’ as building blocks. By changing the shape and size of the DNA stars it is possible to tune certain properties of the resulting crystal. We believe that these crystalline materials have potential in a variety of applications including drug and nucleic acid delivery vectors, crystallisation media for amphiphilic membrane proteins, and as scaffolds for the growth of inorganic materials.

 

Ryan Brady 

NanoDTC PhD Cohort 2014