Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Frank Lloyd Nano

Building nanoscale structures from RNA (e4engineering.com)

    Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara are using assembly and folding principles of natural RNA (ribonucleic acid) to build potentially useful artificial structures at the nanoscale. Potential applications include the development of nanocircuits, medical implants, and improved medical testing.

    Luc Jaeger, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB and Arkadiusz Chworos, a post-doctoral fellow studying in Jaeger's lab led this research.

    "In our lab, we see ourselves as nano-architects" said Jaeger. "We are using the lessons that nature teaches us about RNA assembly and folding principles to create nanoscale buildings made of 'smart' molecular 'Lego-like' bricks." This concept, called RNA tectonics, led to the synthesis of RNA grids with finite size and various patterns. Using atomic force microscopy, the UCSB team has been able to visualise some of their assemblies made of square-shaped RNA units that form beautiful patterns and nano-grids.

    One of the aims of Jaeger's group is to address one of the great challenges in supra-molecular chemistry, namely to attain total control of the arrangement of matter at a molecular level. The artificial RNA molecular system is based on 'smart' RNA pieces, which could self-assemble in a predictable manner into any possible two-dimensional architecture with full control over size, shape and pattern geometry, according to the scientists. The final position of each piece can eventually be located within a network lattice of finite size. More here

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