PerspectiveNANOTECHNOLOGY

Emerging uses of DNA mechanical devices

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Science  13 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1080-1081
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3343

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Summary

Modern machines, which are composed of force-generating motors, force sensors, and load-bearing structures, enabled the industrial revolution and are foundational to human civilization. Miniature micromachines are used in countless devices including cell phone microphones, implantable biosensors, and car and airplane accelerometers. Further miniaturization to the nanometer scale would enable the design of machines that can manipulate biomolecules and other nanomaterials for applications in medicine, biological research, and material development. Such machines are typically difficult or impossible to build because of their small size. However, a recent boom in the field of DNA nanotechnology, wherein synthetic DNA is used to tailor-make functional nanostructures, has produced extensive insight into the mechanical properties of DNA. This insight has propelled the emergence of a subfield that we call “DNA mechanotechnology,” wherein DNA devices are engineered to generate, transmit, and sense mechanical forces at the nanoscale.

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