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Assembling carbon nanotubes into two dimensional structures and devices using DNA origami in a process that is scalable to billions of devices assembled in parallel. Carbon nanotubes are also being formed into fibers hundreds of meters long and if the carbon nanotubes were able to be selected to be all metallic then carbon nanotubes could be used for nearly lossless power lines.
November 18th, 2009
Self-assembly of Carbon Nanotubes into Two-Dimensional Structures and Devices and on the Verge of Carbon Nanotube Powerlines
A central challenge in nanotechnology is the parallel fabrication of complex geometries for nanodevices. Here we report a general method for arranging single-walled carbon nanotubes in two dimensions using DNA origami—a technique in which a long single strand of DNA is folded into a predetermined shape. We synthesize rectangular origami templates (75 nm 95 nm) that display two lines of single-stranded DNA 'hooks' in a cross pattern with 6 nm resolution. The perpendicular lines of hooks serve as sequence-specific binding sites for two types of nanotubes, each functionalized non-covalently with a distinct DNA linker molecule. The hook-binding domain of each linker is protected to ensure efficient hybridization. When origami templates and DNA-functionalized nanotubes are mixed, strand displacement-mediated deprotection and binding aligns the nanotubes into cross-junctions. Of several cross-junctions synthesized by this method, one demonstrated stable field-effect transistor-like behaviour. In such organizations of electronic components, DNA origami serves as a programmable nanobreadboard; thus, DNA origami may allow the rapid prototyping of complex nanotube-based structures.
"We expect that our approach can be improved and extended to reliably construct more complex circuits involving carbon nanotubes and perhaps other elements including electrodes and wiring," Goddard says, "which we anticipate will provide new ways to probe the behavior and properties of these remarkable molecules."
The real benefit of the approach, he points out, is that self-assembly doesn't just make one device at a time. "This is a scalable technology. That is, one can design the origami to construct complex logic units, and to do this for thousands or millions or billions of units that self-assemble in parallel."