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December 6th, 2007
What appear under an atomic force microscope to be tiny rings with little bits missing are actually nanoscopic rings made of double-stranded DNA with a little gap in the form of a short single-stranded fragment. As Michael Famulok and his team from the University of Bonn, Germany, explain in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this gap is a place to attach other molecules that have the potential to transform the rings into versatile nanocomposites for various applications.
The programmable aggregation of molecular building blocks into structures with higher order plays a key role in the construction of nanomaterials. Nucleic acids are interesting building block candidates, being easy to synthesize and exhibiting unique molecular recognition characteristics. The difficulty lies in the fact that the construction of defined two- or three-dimensional geometries requires rigid building blocks. However, DNA molecules are normally flexible structures.
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