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HomeNanotechnologyDiamond glitter: A play of colours with synthetic DNA crystals

Diamond glitter: A play of colours with synthetic DNA crystals


Utilizing DNA origami, LMU researchers have constructed a diamond lattice with a periodicity of a whole lot of nanometers — a brand new strategy for manufacturing semiconductors for seen gentle.

The shimmering of butterfly wings in shiny colours doesn’t emerge from pigments. Moderately, it’s photonic crystals which are answerable for the play of colours. Their periodic nanostructure permits gentle at sure wavelengths to cross by whereas reflecting different wavelengths. This causes the wing scales, that are in reality clear, to look so magnificently coloured. For analysis groups, the manufacture of synthetic photonic crystals for seen gentle wavelengths has been a serious problem and motivation ever since they had been predicted by theorists greater than 35 years in the past. “Photonic crystals have a flexible vary of functions. They’ve been employed to develop extra environment friendly photo voltaic cells, progressive optical waveguides, and supplies for quantum communication. Nonetheless, they’ve been very laborious to fabricate,” explains Dr. Gregor Posnjak. The physicist is a postdoc within the analysis group of LMU Professor Tim Liedl, whose work is funded by the “e-conversion” Cluster of Excellence and the European Analysis Council. Utilizing DNA nanotechnology, the group has developed a brand new strategy for the manufacture of photonic crystals. Their outcomes have now been revealed within the journal Science.

Diamond construction out of strands of DNA

In distinction to lithographic strategies, the LMU group makes use of a way known as DNA origami to design and synthesize constructing blocks, which then self-assemble into a particular lattice construction. “It is lengthy been recognized that the diamond lattice theoretically has an optimum geometry for photonic crystals. In diamonds, every carbon atom is bonded to 4 different carbon atoms. Our problem consisted in enlarging the construction of a diamond crystal by an element of 500, in order that the areas between the constructing blocks correspond with the wavelength of sunshine,” explains Tim Liedl. “We elevated the periodicity of the lattice to 170 nanometers by changing the person atoms with bigger constructing blocks — in our case, by DNA origami,” says Posnjak.

The right molecule folding method

What seems like magic is definitely a specialty of the Liedl group, one of many world’s main analysis groups in DNA origami and self-assembly. For this function, the scientists use a protracted, ring-shaped DNA strand (consisting of round 8,000 bases) and a set of 200 brief DNA staples. “The latter management the folding of the longer DNA strand into nearly any form in any respect — akin to origami masters, who fold items of paper into intricate objects. As such, the clamps are a way of figuring out how the DNA origami objects mix to kind the specified diamond lattice,” says the LMU postdoctoral researcher. The DNA origami constructing blocks kind crystals of roughly ten micrometers in measurement, that are deposited on a substrate after which handed on to a cooperating analysis group from the Walter Schottky Institute on the Technical College of Munich (TUM): The group led by Professor Ian Sharp (additionally funded by the “e-conversion” Cluster of Excellence) is ready to deposit particular person atomic layers of titanium dioxide on all surfaces of the DNA origami crystals. “The DNA origami diamond lattice serves as scaffolding for titanium dioxide, which, on account of its excessive index of refraction, determines the photonic properties of the lattice. After coating, our photonic crystal doesn’t enable UV gentle with a wavelength of about 300 nanometers to cross by, however fairly displays it,” explains Posnjak. The wavelength of the mirrored gentle will be managed by way of the thickness of the titanium dioxide layer.

DNA origami might enhance photonics

For photonic crystals that work within the infrared vary, basic lithographic strategies are appropriate however laborious and costly. Within the wavelength vary of seen and UV gentle, lithographic strategies haven’t been profitable to this point. “Consequently, the comparatively simple manufacturing course of utilizing the self-assembly of DNA origami in an aqueous answer gives a robust different for producing buildings within the desired measurement cost-effectively and in bigger portions,” says Prof. Tim Liedl. He’s satisfied that the distinctive construction with its giant pores, that are chemically addressable, will stimulate additional analysis — for instance, within the area of power harvesting and storage. In the identical subject of Science, a collaboration led by prof. Petr Šulc of Arizona State College and TUM presents a theoretical framework for designing numerous crystalline lattices from patchy colloids, and experimentally demonstrates the tactic by using DNA origami constructing blocks to kind a pyrochlore lattice, which doubtlessly additionally might be used for photonic functions.

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