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DNA Nanotechnology: History and Applications

BY: Muniba Safdar | Category: Nanotechnology | Submitted: 2011-02-06 19:24:30
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Article Summary: "What is DNA nanotechnology? DNA nanotechnology, a branch of nanotechnology, uses the nucleic acids and acknowledged molecular properties of DNA. By using these properties and nucleic acids for technological purposes, we can create designed, artificial structures of DNA easily..."

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DNA nanotechnology, a branch of nanotechnology, uses the nucleic acids and acknowledged molecular properties of DNA. By using these properties and nucleic acids for technological purposes, we can create designed, artificial structures of DNA easily. In the field of DNA nanotechnology, DNA is not used as a carrier that carries the genetic information but used as a structural material which makes it an example of bio-nanotechnology (an intersection of biology and nanotechnology). DNA nanotechnology has various applications, but mostly used in DNA computing or bio-molecular computing (a form of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry and molecular biology, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies) and in molecular self-assembly (molecules adopt a defined arrangement without any guidance from an outside source).

In 1980, Nadrian Seeman has given the concept of DNA nanotechnology, which was originally concerned with the concept of three-dimensional lattice to place target molecules. Seeman also suggested the idea of using DNA arrays to model the assembly of other functional molecules. Obtaining pure crystals of molecules are quiet a difficult process, and we need to simplify this process by simplifying their crystallographic study. In 1991, Seeman published the synthesis of a cube, which was made of DNA, and it was the first three-dimensional nano-scale object. As we know that, DNA is generally considered in the framework of molecular biology (a branch of biology that studies the structure and activity of macromolecules essential to life (and especially with their genetic role)) as carrying the genetic information in living cells. Out of any biological context, DNA is considered as a material and as a chemical in the field of DNA nanotechnology.

The fact which is made by DNA nanotechnology is that the particularity of Watson-Crick base paring (One of the pairs of chemical bases joined by hydrogen bonds that connect the complementary strands of a DNA molecule or of an RNA molecule that has two strands; the base pairs are adenine with thymine and guanine with cytosine in DNA and adenine with uracil and guanine with cytosine in RNA), the strands which are complementary to each other will only bind to each other and will form a DNA duplex. And if we talk about DNA nanotechnology it will rationally design DNA strands so that anticipated portion of each strand will accumulate in the correct positions to get desired target structures. Although we called this field as DNA nanotechnology, because its values apply similarly well to other nucleic acids for example RNA and PNA (Peptide Nucleic Acid) and other structures. That's why this DNA nanotechnology is sporadically referred to as "Nucleic Acid Nanotechnology".

DNA nanotechnology makes very complex structures of nucleic acids by using the base-pairing concept in nucleic acid molecules structures which are consists of a sequence of nucleotides (the basic structural unit of nucleic acids (DNA or RNA)). DNA nanotechnology usually make branched DNA structures that contains junctions, as conflicting to most biological DNA occurs in a linear double helix (A pair of parallel helices intertwined about a common axis). For example, "Four-Arm junction" which is one of the simplest and the first made branched structure made by four individual DNA strands complementary to each other in the correct arrangement. DNA nanotechnology emphases on generating molecules and structures with designed functionalities.

In recent studies, researchers have covalently attached gold nanoparticles (a suspension (or colloid) of sub-micrometer-sized particles of gold in a fluid -usually water) to a double crossover or DX-based tile. They have also shown that self-assembly of the DNA structures also tacked the nanoparticles. DNA nanotechnology has also been using in the assemblage of molecular electronics devices. It has also been used in single-walled carbon nanotubes into field-effect transistors (relies on an electric field to control the shape and hence the conductivity of a channel of one type of charge carrier in a semiconductor material).

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