Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems together with researchers at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Stuttgart use a technique called DNA origami to mimic a multitude of vital movements seen in nature, such as the sliding motion exerted by protein motors during cell division. Their invention, which is a thousand times smaller than a human hair, features a preliminary attempt to construct nanoscale analogues of the mysterious natural machines in living cells.
“We have managed to couple two origami filaments and to move them apart in a controlled fashion. We call this filament sliding. By doing so, we have imitated, to some extent, an essential movement behavior that occurs in nature, during cell division or muscle contraction.”
Maximilian Urban is proud that his research publication will appear in Nature Communications(“Gold nanocrystal-mediated sliding of doublet DNA origami filament”). The 31-year old doctoral student is among a team of seven researchers in the “Smart Nanoplasmonics” research group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart. Since 2014 he has been working on different dynamic nanosystems enabled by DNA origami technique.
“Our goal is to realize a variety of artificial functional systems on the nanoscale, taking direct inspirations from nature”, says Laura Na Liu, who works with Urban and leads the research group.