Nanobot Alchemists Spin Gold
Source: CNET, Tim Hornyak (5/14/10)
"U.S. scientists develop microscopic DNA robots that work together to make particles of gold."
Reporting in the journal Nature, NYU Chemistry Professor Nadrian Seeman and colleagues describe a tiny DNA factory consisting of a DNA track for assembly, three molecular forklifts that can deliver parts and a DNA "walker" that moves around like a car on an assembly line. The team produced the first such walker in 2004, knitting together strands of DNA to form a mobile molecule. With the nano-factory's walker working, the plant can be programmed to produce up to eight different combinations of gold nanoparticle chemical species, according to the researchers.
"We have the three robot stations lined up in a row, and the walker walks by them. Depending on how we program the system, the walker will or will not accept cargos from the three stations," Seemen said. "This is very analogous, in my mind, to the way the chassis of a car rolls by the various robots in an automobile assembly line."
The research takes advantage of DNA's unique ability to store information, which the team manipulated to adjust the structure of the molecular robots and how they connect to other molecules. Adding DNA strands to the walker and the forklifts allows them to move.