Washington: A synthetic `gene,` developed by scientists, could trap carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming, rising sea levels and ocean acidity.
"We created three-dimensional, synthetic DNA-like crystals," said University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) professor of chemistry and biochemistry Omar M. Yaghi.
"We have taken organic and inorganic units and combined them into a synthetic crystal which codes information in a DNA-like manner. It is by no means as sophisticated as DNA, but it is certainly new in chemistry and materials science."
The discovery could lead to cleaner energy, including technology that factories and cars can use to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.
"What we think this will be important for is potentially getting to a viable carbon dioxide-capture material with ultra-high selectivity," said Yaghi.
"I am optimistic that it is within our reach. Potentially, we could create a material that can convert carbon dioxide into a fuel, or a material that can separate carbon dioxide with greater efficiency," added Yaghi.
"DNA is a beautiful molecule that has a way to code for information," Yaghi said. "How do you code information in a crystal in the same way that DNA does? DJ and I figured out a way to do this."
Carbon dioxide is polluting the earth`s atmosphere and damaging coral reefs and marine life - impacts that are irreversible in our lifetime, Yaghi said.
The research was published in the Friday issue of Science.