From Nanowerk News:

In a microscopic feat that resembled a high-wire circus act, Johns Hopkins researchers have coaxed DNA nanotubes to assemble themselves into bridge-like structures arched between two molecular landmarks on the surface of a lab dish.

The team captured examples of this unusual nanoscale performance on video.

This self-assembling bridge process, which may someday be used to connect electronic medical devices to living cells, was reported by the team recently in the journal Nature Nanotechnology (“Self-assembling DNA nanotubes to connect molecular landmarks”).

To describe this process, senior author Rebecca Schulman, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the university’s Whiting School of Engineering, referred to a death-defying stunt shown in the movie Man on Wire. The film depicted Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

Schulman pointed out that the real-life crossing could not have been accomplished without a critical piece of old-fashioned engineering: Petit’s hidden partner used a bow and arrow to launch the wire across the chasm between the towers, allowing it to be secured to each structure.

“A feat like that was hard to do on a human scale,” Schulman said. “Could we ask molecules to do the same thing? Could we get molecules to build a ‘bridge’ between other molecules or landmarks on existing structures?”

 

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