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Date: 16 April 2014
a new method for controlling the self-assembly of nanometer and micrometer-sized particles  

Topic Name: a new method for controlling the self-assembly of nanometer and micrometer-sized particles
Category: Nanobiotechnology
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Research persons: Maye Mathew,Nykypanchuk Dmytro,Lelievre Berna Eddy,Gang Oleg

Location: Brookhaven National Laboratory,Upton, NY 11973-5000, United States


a new method for controlling the self-assembly of nanometer and micrometer-sized particles

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory
have developed a new method for controlling the self-assembly of nanometer and
micrometer-sized particles. The method, based on designed DNA shells that coat a
particle’s surface, can be used to manipulate the structure – and therefore the
properties and potential uses – of numerous materials that may be of interest to
industry. For example, such fine-tuning of materials at the molecular level
promises applications in efficient energy conversion, cell-targeted systems for
drug delivery, and bio-molecular sensing for environmental monitoring and
medical applications.
The novel method, for which a patent application has been filed, was developed
by Brookhaven researchers Mathew M. Maye, Dmytro Nykypanchuk, Daniel van der
Lelie, and Oleg Gang and is described in the September 12 online edition of
Small, a leading journal on nanoscience and nanotechnology.
“Our method is unique because we attached two types of DNA with different
functions to particles’ surfaces,” said Gang, who leads the research team. “The
first type –
complementary single strands of DNA
– forms a
double helix. The second type
is non-complementary, neutral DNA, which provides a repulsive force. In contrast
to previous studies in which only complementary DNA strands are attached to the
particles, the addition of the repulsive force allows for regulating the size of
particle clusters and the speed of their self-assembly with more precision.”
“When two non-complementary DNA strands are brought together in a fixed volume
that is typically occupied by one DNA strand, they compete for space,” said Maye.
“Thus, the DNA acts as a molecular spring, and this results in the repulsive
force among particles, which we can regulate. This force allows us to more
easily manipulate particles into different formations.”
The researchers performed the experiments on
gold nanoparticles
measuring billionths of a meter – and
polystyrene (a
type of plastic) microparticles
– measuring millionths of a meter. These
particles served as models for the possibility of using the technique with other
small particles. The scientists synthesized DNA to chemically react with the
particles. They controlled the assembly process by keeping the total amount of
DNA constant, while varying the relative fraction of complementary and

non-complementary DNA.
This technique allowed for regulating assembly over a
very broad range, from forming clusters consisting of millions of particles to
almost keeping individual particles separate in a non-aggregating form.
“It is like adjusting molecular springs,” said Nykypanchuk. “If there are too
many springs, particles will ‘bounce’ from each other, and if there are too few
springs, particles will likely stick to each other.”
The method was tested separately on the nano- and micro-sized particles, and was
equally successful in providing greater control than using only complementary
DNA in assembling both types of particles into large or small groupings.
To determine the structure of the assembled particles and to learn how to modify
them for particular uses, the researchers used transmission electron microscopy
to visualize the clusters, as well as x-ray scattering at the
National Synchrotron Light Source to study
particles in solution, the DNA’s natural environment.

About Researchers:
Maye Mathew
Lab Mail: mmaye@bnl.gov
Mail Stop: 0463
Telephone Extension: 4377
Personnel Type: Employee
Fax Number: 2739
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Upton, NY 11973-5000
Nykypanchuk Dmytro
Lab Mail: dnykypan@bnl.gov
Mail Stop: 0510B
Telephone Extension: 3045
Personnel Type: Employee
Fax Number: 2739
Lelievre Berna Eddy
Department: PM
Personnel Type: Non-Employee
Home Institution Mail: lelievre@ill.fr
Gang Oleg
Lab Mail: ogang@bnl.gov
Mail Stop: 0510B
Telephone Extension: 3645
Personnel Type: Employee
Fax Number: 2739
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the
Office of Science of
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE),

Brookhaven National Laboratory
conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as
well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds
and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and
government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for
DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science
Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation of
State University of New York on behalf of
Stony Brook University,
the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and
Battelle, a nonprofit,
applied science and technology organization.

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