27 October 2023

A tiny turbine has been assembled from DNA

Using DNA origami technology researchers have created a tiny molecular nanoturbine.

Engineers have developed a 25-nm-long miniature turbine from DNA. The nanoscale device harnesses the energy of ionic gradients or electrical potential in a solid-state nanopore to spin mechanically.

The researchers used DNA origami in their work. This is a technique that uses specific interactions between complementary DNA base pairs to create dynamic three-dimensional nano-objects. The engineers assembled a turbine with three chiral blades encased in a tiny 25-nm-long body and operating in a solid-state nanopore. The researchers assembled two combinations to control the direction of rotation.

One of the most intriguing discoveries of this study was the unique nature of the rotation of the DNA-origami nanoturbine. It is affected by ion concentration, allowing the same turbine to rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the concentration of Na+ ions in the solution. This unique feature, exclusive to the nanoscale, is the result of a complex interaction between ions, water and DNA.

The researchers promise to expand the horizons of nanotechnology and suggest numerous applications. For example, in the future, DNA origami could be used to create nanomachines that deliver drugs to specific types of cells in the human body.
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