A substantial addition has been made to the toolkit for structural DNA nanotechnology. Currently the only general way to build arbitrarily complex 100-nm-scale DNA objects is scaffolded DNA origami, in which a long (about 7000 bases), biological single stranded DNA molecule is folded into a pre-determined shape through binding to a specially designed set of short, synthetic “staple” strands. A new method now programs self-assembly of arbitrarily complex 150-nm DNA objects from hundreds of distinct single-stranded tiles, each a 42-base strand folded into a 3nm by 7nm tile and attached to four neighboring tiles. With each tile a pixel, the tiles assemble to form a 310-pixel, 150nm-square canvas.
Researchers at the Wyss Institute have developed a method for building complex nanostructures out of short synthetic strands of DNA. Called single-stranded tiles (SSTs), these interlocking DNA "building blocks," akin to Legos®, can be programmed to assemble themselves into precisely designed shapes, such as letters and emoticons. Further development of the technology could enable the creation of new nanoscale devices, such as those that deliver drugs directly to disease sites.