Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fundamental Advances in DNA Nanotechnology: Probes, Synthesis, Photonics, and 3D Printing

The focus of the 11th annual conference on the Foundations of Nanoscience (FNANO) held April 14-17, 2014 in Snowbird UT was self-assembled architectures and devices. The conference continues to be important in providing a comprehensive look at fundamental enabling technologies across a range of nanoscience fields and the eventual advent of molecular electronics.

The majority of the conference discussed self-assembled architectures and devices in the context of DNA nanotechnology (using DNA as a structural building block in nanomaterials construction). DNA is the material of choice for constructing nanoscale objects. It is a useful construction material because the interactions between complementary base pairs are understood, and can be designed and built to create frames and scaffolds that hold other molecules and create structures on their own.

The main technique in DNA nanotechnology is inducing self-assembly, where advances in different methods were discussed such as lithography, 3D printing, electro-chemicals, electronics, and photonics (controlled light interactions with matter).

The scale and required replicability of nanomaterials engenders a strong focus on tool development to determine and assess the progress and quality of self-assembly and other operations. New research was presented in tools related to working with DNA such as probes, detectors, samplers, nanopores, and nanochannels (i.e. waldoes). In silico modeling and prediction remains a crucial step, for example improving the prediction of DNA and RNA folding helps in targeting RNA interference.

Synthetic biology, biomedicine, energy, and basic materials continue to be the important application areas for DNA nanotechnology.

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