Scientists at the University Bonn have succeeded in producing a molecule consisting of a double-stranded DNA - the so-called rotaxane - whose individual parts are movableFor years, biochemists have been puzzling over rotaxanes.
The word derives from the Ancient Greek and means “axle” - for a good reason: A rotaxane molecule mainly consists of an axis and a threaded ring attached by other rings that are also entwined with each other.
Previous rotaxanes had derived from organic chemistry and were considerably smaller as well as less movable, whereas the new rotaxane molecules consist of DNA, which can be tailored further much easier. This simplifies the development of sophisticated mechanical systems.
Building Blocks of Life as Construction Material
The scientists at the University Bonn used DNA as building material for architecturally reasons. The double helix not only provides a very stable structure but can also be used as a new starting point for more building blocks by removing individual strands.
Small Weel for the Nanomotor
The developed rotaxane is a novelty by combining a stable mechanical unit with a movable ring. Hence, the initial objective is to build controllable movable systems at the nano level. As axle and wheel already exist, the scientists are now searching for an appropriate motor. Those nanomotors might also be compatible with biological systems such as proteins.
This can form a basis for most different nano-mechanical systems.