DNA is not just the stuff of our genetic code; it is also a means to design self-assembling materials. Grafting DNA onto nano- and microparticles can, in principle, ‘program’ them with information that tells them exactly how to self-assemble. Although fully programmable assembly has not yet been realized, the groundwork has been laid: with an understanding of how specific interparticle attractions arise from DNA hybridization, we can now make systems that reliably assemble in and out of equilibrium. We discuss these advances, and the design rules that will allow us to control — and ultimately program — the assembly of new materials.
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We thank M. Brenner, D. Frenkel, O. Gang, A. Tkachenko, W. Jacobs, D. Pine, P. Chaikin, J. Crocker and B. Mognetti for discussions and the National Science Foundation for funding through grant no. DMR-1435964.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Rogers, W., Shih, W. & Manoharan, V. Using DNA to program the self-assembly of colloidal nanoparticles and microparticles. Nat Rev Mater 1, 16008 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/natrevmats.2016.8
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