Study shows DNA will fill tubes

June 4/11, 2003

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have shown by computer simulation that it is possible to insert DNA into a carbon nanotube.

Carbon nanotubes are rolled-up sheets of carbon atoms; they have useful electronic properties and can be smaller than one nanometer in diameter, which is the length of a row of 10 hydrogen atoms. Previous research has shown that it is possible to use DNA, the molecule that holds and replicates the code that makes up life's processes, for microelectronics.

Devices based on the DNA-nanotube combination could eventually be used to make electronics, molecular sensors, devices that sequence DNA electronically, and even gene delivery systems, according to the researchers.

The researchers' simulation showed that in a liquid environment, a combination of the van der Waals force and hydrophobic interaction forces would pull a strand of DNA into a nanotube. The van der Waals force is a weak force of attraction between atoms and molecules.

It could be possible to use the method to make DNA-modulated electronics in five to ten years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the April 9, 2003 issue of Nano letters.

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