German chemists collected DNA nanoscale “tower crane” from chains of DNA, the “arrow” of which can quickly rotate and move small loads.
From DNA, you can do many different things: scientists have already learned to fold it in the form of a donut, make bear figures from a double helix and even a copy of the “Mona Lisa” – all less than 100 nanometers in size. This time chemists from Germany made from DNA a controllable block-a long boom attached to the surface and capable of describing an almost complete circle in a plane parallel to the plane of the surface.
The movement of a short direct DNA fragment is controlled by a microcontroller, a system of electrodes that generates an electric field. Controlling the mechanism of DNA from electricity is a fundamentally new solution; earlier for this, chemical energy sources and regulators were used. It turned out that the electric drive works hundreds of thousands of times faster.
A DNA molecule is a polymer whose monomers are nucleotides. In a double helix, in the form of which DNA usually exists, parts of nucleotides are nitrogenous bases of parallel chains, linked in pairs, and sugar-deoxyribose and phosphoric acid residues are linked together in one chain. Electrons in the DNA molecule are distributed unevenly; this allowed scientists to assemble a nanoscale detachment in which a sleeve from a DNA molecule anchored on a movable base (two single-stranded DNA molecules served as fasteners) rotated clockwise and counterclockwise, depending on the configuration of the external electric field.
With the help of such a controller it is possible not only to drive the sleeve of DNA itself, but also to move small molecules and nanoparticles. True, this requires increasing the length of the instrument from 25 to 400 nanometers. According to the calculations of the authors of the work, it takes several milliseconds to move the “cargo” to several nanometers. Having placed many such sleeves on one platform, it will be possible to create a molecular computer or a simpler molecular mechanism for working with nanoscale objects.
The results of the study are published in the journal Science.