Nanotechnology: Wired up by DNA strands

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In the quest for ever-smaller electronics, DNA could function as a molecular wire, say Jacqueline Barton and her group at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. They report that a 34-nanometre-long monolayer of double-stranded DNA can transport electrical charge.

The researchers measured the current of electrons flowing from a gold electrode, down the DNA layer to a probe at the other end. Charge transport required perfect matching between the DNA's base pairs, with just a single mismatch in 100 base pairs hampering electron flow.

This is among the farthest that a molecular wire has transported charge, the authors say. They add that DNA's intrinsic long-range order, flexibility and ease of synthesis make it an attractive molecule for nanoelectronics.

Nature Chem. doi:10.1038/nchem.982 (2011)

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