Self-stacking DNA Tablets Construct Towers of Nanoparticles

What is the scientific achievement?

The mesoscale components of living cells are formed from small biomolecules, yet exhibit well-defined shapes. Inspired by Nature’s approach, CFN staff and users developed a similar assembly strategy for constructing inorganic nanomaterials. Using tablet-shaped DNA to hold nanoparticles at specified locations, the team programmed tablets to self-stack in a prescribed order — forming mesoscale pillars with precisely positioned nanoparticles.

Why does this achievement matter?

This research shows a new strategy for building nanomaterials, using programmable DNA to mediate the assembly and design material plasmonic properties.

What are the details?

Schematic of the DNA self-stacking process enlarge

(Top) Schematic of the DNA self-stacking process, used to assemble nanoparticles into pillars. (Bottom) Assembled pillars of DNA-nanoparticles imaged by (left) transmission electron microscopy, and (right) cryo-electron microscope tomography.

“By-design” assembly of materials and devices from nanoscale inorganic components requires the development of new and improved fabrication methods. Conventional self-assembly is often limited in its ability to simultaneously control material morphology and structure. This work demonstrates a new approach to addressing this challenge, by assembling nanoparticles in a linear “pillar” morphology with regulated internal configurations. This method is inspired by supramolecular systems, where intermolecular stacking guides the assembly process to form diverse linear morphologies. Programmable stacking interactions were realized through incorporation of DNA coded recognition between the designed planar nanoparticle clusters. This resulted in formation of multilayered pillar architectures with a well-defined internal nanoparticle organization. By controlling the number, position, size, and composition of the nanoparticles in each layer, a broad range of nanoparticle pillars were assembled and characterized in detail. In addition, the study shows the utility of this stacking assembly strategy for investigating plasmonic and electrical transport properties.

CFN Capabilities:

CFN Materials Synthesis and Electron Microscopy Facilities were used to develop the assembly method and perform structural characterization.

Publication Reference

C. Tian, M. A. L. Cordeiro, J. Lhermitte, H. L. Xin, L. Shani, M. Liu, C. Ma, Y. Yeshurun, D. DiMarzio, O. Gang, ACS Nano 11, 7036 (2017). 

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b02671

Acknowledgement of Support

U.S. DOE Office of Science Facilities operated at Brookhaven National Laboratory under contract no. DE-SC0012704

BNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development program

NG Next, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Israel Science Foundation (ISF-164/12) and the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) (I-1234-303.10/2014)

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