Research Article

Casting inorganic structures with DNA molds

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Science  09 Oct 2014:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258361

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We report a general strategy for designing and synthesizing inorganic nanostructures with arbitrarily prescribed three-dimensional shapes. Computationally designed DNA strands self-assemble into a stiff “nano-mold” that contains a user-specified three-dimensional cavity and encloses a nucleating gold “seed”. Under mild conditions, this seed grows into a larger cast structure that fills and thus replicates the cavity. We synthesized a variety of nanoparticles with three nanometer resolution: three distinct silver cuboids with three independently tunable dimensions, silver and gold nanoparticles with diverse cross sections, and composite structures with homo-/heterogeneous components. The designer equilateral silver triangular and spherical nanoparticles exhibited plasmonic properties consistent with electromagnetism-based simulations. Our framework is generalizable to more complex geometries and diverse inorganic materials, offering a range of applications in biosensing, photonics, and nanoelectronics.

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