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DNA Drawing with an Old Twist

from Nature News

Scientists have developed a way to carve shapes from DNA canvases, including all the letters of the Roman alphabet, emoticons and an eagle's head.

Bryan Wei, a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues make these shapes out of single strands of DNA just 42 letters long. Each strand is unique, and folds to form a rectangular tile. When mixed, neighbouring tiles stick to each other in a brick-wall pattern, and shorter boundary tiles lock the edges in place.

In their simplest configuration, the tiles produce a solid 64-by-103-nanometre rectangle, but Wei and his team can create more complex shapes by leaving out specific tiles. Using this strategy, they created 107 two-dimensional shapes, including letters, numbers, Chinese characters, geometric shapes and symbols. They also produced tubes and rectangles of different sizes, including one consisting of more than 1,000 tiles. Their work is published in Nature.

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