Washington: Scientists have created a multitude of nano-scale materials, but they are practically useless, unless slotted precisely in the architecture of proposed devices, until now.
Jen Cha, University of California San Diego (UCSD) nanoengineering professor, and her team have discovered that one way to bridge this gap is to use biomolecules, such as DNA and proteins and vastly improve sensing equipment.
"Rationally designed synthetic DNA nanostructures allow us to access length scales between five and 100 nanometres and bridge the two systems," said Albert Hung, who led the study and is a post-doctoral fellow in Cha`s lab. Nanometre is a billionth of a metre.
"A huge variety of unique and functional nanostructures are worthless unless you can place individual structures, billions or trillions of them at the same time, at precise locations," Hung added.
"We hope that our research brings us a step closer to solving this very difficult problem," he added. Hung said the recently discovered method may be useful for fabricating nanoscale electronic or optical circuits and multiplex sensors.
"A number of groups have worked on parts of this research problem before, but to our knowledge, we`re the first to attempt to address so many parts together as a whole," he said.
One of the main applications of this research that Cha and her group are interested in is for sensing.
"There is no foreseeable route to be able to build a complex array of different nanoscale sensing elements currently," said Cha.
"Our work is one of the first clear examples of how you can merge top down lithography with bottom up self assembly to build such an array," said Cha. Lithography is the only process that can mass-produce microchips and other complex semiconductor devices. These findings were recently published in Nature Nanotechology.
First Published: Monday, January 11, 2010, 16:43