By: April Carson
DNA may seem uninteresting for using as a regular pair of tweezers because it can store the whole plan of life. Strands of DNA, according to a study published in the 10 August edition of Nature, can be programmed to cycle open and shut repeatedly, creating a tiny machine that can perform mechanical work. Scientists created the molecular tweezers that are only one nanometer (nm) across, about 1/10,000th of the width of a human hair.
The study is very interesting because it shows how DNA can be programmed to do mechanical work at such small scales where quantum mechanics takes over from classical physics. This article will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand more about how our bodies work.
DNA has previously been used for a variety of purposes at the molecular level. DNA strands have been modified to carry out computations by other researchers. Another team of researchers is hoping that DNA can also be used to build new generations of components, such as integrated circuits and switches, hundreds of times smaller than the current industry leaders.
To build the tweezers, Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories alumnus Bernard Yurke and University of Oxford grad Andrew Turberfield linked three DNA strands together to make a V-shaped structure. One of these strands is curved and connects with part of each of the other two strands, creating two fairly sturdy arms.
By adding a fourth strand, the tweezers may be pinched shut. This bent strand is the exact mirror image of the DNA that dangles from the ends of the V. When both dangling ends are joined with this fourth strand, the two sides of the V come together. To reopen them, the researchers attached a stretch of DNA that binds even stronger to the fuel strand than before, breaking it free from the tweezers. How do they know it's working? Because there are two fluorescein markers at the V tips, one of which absorbs part of the other when they're close together. As a result, the tweezers' brightness increases when they are opened rather than decreased.
According to Yurke, the study demonstrates that DNA may be used as a "smart glue" that can collect components from a jumbled mess and put them together. The potential of this technology, according to New York University chemist Ned Seeman, a pioneer in DNA nanotechnology, is that researchers can construct different tweezers using different base pair sequences. In theory, you might target each pair of DNA tweezers separately. "In my opinion," he adds, "that is an enormous step forward."
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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