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DNA enables nanoscale control of the structure of matter

  • Nadrian C. Seeman (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2006

1. Introduction 363

2. Motif and sequence design 364

3. Structural and topological constructions 366

4. Nanomechanical devices 367

5. Conclusions, applications and challenges 370

6. Acknowledgments 371

7. References 371

Structural DNA nanotechnology consists of constructing objects, lattices and devices from branched DNA molecules. Branched DNA molecules open the way for the construction of a variety of N-connected motifs. These motifs can be joined by cohesive interactions to produce larger constructs in a bottom-up approach to nanoconstruction. The first objects produced by this approach were stick polyhedra and topological targets, such as knots and Borromean rings. These were followed by periodic arrays with programmable patterns. It is possible to exploit DNA structural transitions and sequence-specific binding to produce a variety of DNA nanomechanical devices, which include a bipedal walker and a machine that emulates the translational capabilities of the ribosome. Much of the promise of this methodology involves the use of DNA to scaffold other materials, such as biological macromolecules, nanoelectronic components, and polymers. These systems are designed to lead to improvements in crystallography, computation and the production of diverse and exotic materials.

Corresponding author
Department of Chemistry, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA. Tel.: +1 212-998-8395; Fax: +1 212-260-7905; E-mail:
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Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics
  • ISSN: 0033-5835
  • EISSN: 1469-8994
  • URL: /core/journals/quarterly-reviews-of-biophysics
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