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Charge splitters and charge transport junctions based on guanine quadruplexes

Nature Nanotechnologyvolume 13pages316321 (2018) | Download Citation


Self-assembling circuit elements, such as current splitters or combiners at the molecular scale, require the design of building blocks with three or more terminals. A promising material for such building blocks is DNA, wherein multiple strands can self-assemble into multi-ended junctions, and nucleobase stacks can transport charge over long distances. However, nucleobase stacking is often disrupted at junction points, hindering electric charge transport between the two terminals of the junction. Here, we show that a guanine-quadruplex (G4) motif can be used as a connector element for a multi-ended DNA junction. By attaching specific terminal groups to the motif, we demonstrate that charges can enter the structure from one terminal at one end of a three-way G4 motif, and can exit from one of two terminals at the other end with minimal carrier transport attenuation. Moreover, we study four-way G4 junction structures by performing theoretical calculations to assist in the design and optimization of these connectors.

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We thank the Office of Naval Research (N00014-11-1-0729) for support.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Ruojie Sha, Limin Xiang and Chaoren Liu.


  1. Department of Chemistry, New York University, New York, NY, USA

    • Ruojie Sha
    •  & Nadrian C. Seeman
  2. Biodesign Center for Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • Limin Xiang
    • , Yueqi Li
    •  & Nongjian Tao
  3. School of Molecular Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

    • Limin Xiang
    •  & Yueqi Li
  4. Departments of Chemistry, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

    • Chaoren Liu
    • , Alexander Balaeff
    • , Yuqi Zhang
    • , Peng Zhang
    •  & David N. Beratan
  5. Nanoscience Technology Center & Department of Physics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

    • Alexander Balaeff
  6. Department of Biochemistry, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

    • David N. Beratan
  7. Department of Physics, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

    • David N. Beratan


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R.S. and N.C.S. designed and synthesized the DNA molecules. L.X., Y.L. and N.T. designed and conducted the conductance measurements experiments. C.L., A.B., Y.Z., P.Z. and D.N.B. conducted and analysed the simulations. The three teams collaborated intensively in formulating the key molecular designs, analysing the data and writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to David N. Beratan or Nongjian Tao or Nadrian C. Seeman.

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  1. Supplementary Information

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