A tiny space shuttle made out of DNA "LEGO bricks" shows how scientists could someday build new technologies on the smallest scales.
Single DNA strands became "LEGO bricks" that could assemble together by themselves into 102 individual 3D shapes. Harvard researchers manipulated the DNA coding of the bricks so that they could form solid shapes such as the tiny shuttle, honeycomb structures, and even "written" features on a solid base such as numbers and letters of the English alphabet.
"Once we know how to compile the correct code of complex shapes and add it to the synthetic DNA strands, everything else is simple and natural," said Yonggang Ke, a chemist at Harvard University. "Those DNA strands are like smart
LEGO bricks that know exactly where to go by themselves."
DNA bricks offer a powerful new tool for building structures in the tiniest detail, according to Ke and his colleagues in their study detailed in the Nov. 29 online edition of the journal Science. The work could lead to tiny medical devices for delivering drugs inside the human body or next-generation computer circuits.