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World Tiniest Antenna Built By A Team Of Chemists Using DNA

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Tiniest Antenna Built Using DNA
Tiniest Antenna Built Using DNA
University of Montreal

Researchers at University of Montreal in Canada used deoxyribose nucleic acid – or DNA, the building-blocks of our genetic material – to create the world’s tiniest antenna. It is designed to-track motion of proteins within the cell, said university press release

The human body itself is an extraordinary machine. Made-up of trillions of cells that perform specific functions, these tiny machine components are packed with instructions-to replicate, mature, & even die. All of this information is contained in DNA & is revealed at preprogrammed times to get the job done. Since its discovery in 1953, the field of DNA chemistry has opened many doors ranging from DNA computing to modifying the information contains using CRISPR to assign entirely new tasks to the cell.

Scott Haroul, one of the researchers who built a tiny antenna said in press release that DNA chemistry is actually simple & easy to program. DNA works much like LEGO blocks & can be put together in different lengths to optimize a new function. The research team added a fluorescent molecule to-one-end to create an antenna 5 nanometers long.

Like radio antennas which can communicate in both directions, this antenna can perform 2 way communications except that it uses light for this purpose. The researchers implemented the nanoantenna to detect the movement of a protein by sending it a light signal. Depending on how the protein molecule moved, the antenna responded-back with a light signal of a different color. Interestingly, the response signal can be captured with a spectrofluorometer, a device commonly found in lab around the world.

Harroun added that team used the antenna to study enzyme alkaline phosphatase, a protein implicated in many diseases, including cancer at present. The team could apply its technology to study how it interacts with other biological molecules & with drugs. According to Dominic Lauzon, a senior member of team, these nano antennas could aid in the discovery of new drugs and allow nano engineers to build improved nano machines.

The findings in the journal Nature Methods

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