Duke University researchers are trying to coax DNA strands to interact with each other and build tiny structures. These structures are hoped to eventually become microscopic machines capable of building materials and devices molecule by molecule.
Their DNA construction method locks DNA strands together to make tiles of nine strands of DNA. These can then be assembled into ribbon and sheet lattices. The have developed the ability to make a set of tiles that self assemble into a tiny protein detector and another set that becomes ribbon templates for silver nanowires.
Many materials can chemically attach to DNA, making it a useful template material. The researchers believe the technology should be ready for practical applications within five years.