Biomod/2014/Braunschweig

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Building the world´s smallest car


DNA is not only a polymer which stores genetic information. Because of its complementary nucleobases DNA provides the opportunity to build complex structures – so called DNA origami – and use them as a template to investigate interactions of molecules, proteins and nanoparticle or as vehicle to transport cargo.

Our team designs a nanoscale car consisting of DNA. This nanoscooter becomes motile on mica surfaces by adapting the kind and concentration of cations in the buffer. Directed movement is achieved by the backstroke of emerging gases that are produced at platinum nanoparticles tethered to the back of the nanoscooter. A steering mechanism for the car, which is controlled by heating and cooling by a laser, could be realized with gold nanoparticles.
The shape of the DNA origami is confirmed by atomic force microscopy, while the movement of the car on a flat mica surface can be illustrated by fluorescence microscopy using fluorescent beads.
This type of DNA origami can be used for directed transport of different components. In the future this technology could be applied for targeted delivery of drugs or for the supply in nanoscale factories.

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