Scientists make a vase out of DNA

Illustration for article titled Scientists make a vase out of DNA

Scientists have begun to use DNA as a building material to make shapes. Usually those shapes are simple, but recently they managed to make a 3D vase out of human DNA.

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DNA is the blueprint for life, and the astonishing and elegant way that genes are stored and passed down through generations. It's also a polymer that makes a great building material. It's small, flexible, relatively durable, and can be manipulated so its strands can join together at any desired point. In the past few years, scientists have used DNA to make interlocking rings, squares, and mobius strips.

But at some point, the fun has to end, and science has to get practical. It was time to stop making random DNA structures and move into DNA home furnishings. Scientists stacked rings of DNA on top of each other to make a vase shape. Then they crossed over certain points on each of the rings, making each layer of the vase stick to the next layer above or below. The result? A 70 nanometer, three dimensional vase made of DNA.

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What's even cooler is the scientists who made it actually believe that the vase - or something made using the same technique - could be used to carry drugs to different parts of the body some day. Plus, it really ties a nanoscopic room together.

Image: 2011 Hao Yan and Dongran Han

Via Science and Arizona State University.

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

This is actually a big deal!

What it says is that we are getting better and better and manipulating molecules into the shapes we want. What it implies is that eventually the concept of molecular engineering that Feynman and Drexler speculated about decades ago might just be possible.

Today, we can shape DNA into a vase, tomorrow we can do the same with protein, the day after that, with nearly any large molecules we want. Mechanosynthesis will have arrived.