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DNA Robot

January 3, 2007

DNA could serve as a building block for super-small machines.


Another kind of genetic engineering. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the future, useful new materials could be assembled one molecule at a time, using incredibly tiny machines made of DNA. New York University chemists Ned Seeman and Baoquan Ding recently announced a major step toward that goal. Seeman says they’ve found a way to attach little branches of DNA to a larger strand in specific, predictable places. And they’ve made each of these strands function like robot arms.

NED SEEMAN (New York University):
So the arm that we’ve attached to this last portion swings back and forth, depending on which way we’ve programmed the system to be set.

He says that multiple arms could be controlled independently if they’re made from slightly different DNA sequences. That could pave the way for extremely complex assembly machines on the scale of billionths of meters.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.