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Home              Mission              Process              Designs              Results              Resources              Team


Figure 1. "Nano-submarine"
Figure 2. Simultaneous detection and amplification

At the beginning of summer, two ideas particularly excited us:

  1. the development of "nano-submarines" (Figure 1) that could programmably deliver and release drugs to, for example, specific parts of the body or specific parts of the cell, and
  2. the realization of a one-component detection and amplification system (Figure 2) that could be deployed to augment the efficiency of catalytic DNA circuits or simplify the assay of molecular or heavy metal signals.

Here is a record of our early brainstorming.


Figure 3. Rothemund (2006)
Figure 4. Han et al. (2011): DNA origami spheres
Figure 5. Andersen et al. (2009): DNA origami box that can open and close

The elegance and robustness of scaffolded DNA origami technology (Figure 3) inspired us, especially after our literature review revealed that other researchers had already used the origami technique to create three-dimensional nano-structures with enclosed interiors.

We realized that further functionalizing these types of nano-structures so that they could controllably load, entrap, and then later release cargo would bring us closer to the realization of both of the ideas that originally motivated us.

  • Essentially we wanted to build upon Andersen's paper, in which he notes the potential for "the controlled release of nanocargos," and that "the DNA box presented here has the potential to both sense and act, for example by combining a diagnostic sensor of complex signals with the controlled release of, or access to, a payload."


Our overall goal was to create DNA origami containers that can load, hold, and release cargo. Specifically, we aimed to:

  1. load various forms of cargo by attaching it to the inside of a container and then closing the container,
  2. solubilize this cargo without leakage to the exterior of the container, and
  3. open our container, releasing our cargo.