The enigmatic Mbius strip has long been an object of fascination, appearing in numerous works of art, most famously a woodcut by the Dutchman M.C. Escher, in which a tribe of ants traverses the form's single, never-ending surface.
Scientists at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University's and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, led by Hao Yan and Yan Liu, have now reproduced the shape on a remarkably tiny scale, joining up braid-like segments of DNA to create Mbius structures measuring just 50 nanometers acrossroughly the width of a virus particle.
Eventually, researchers hope to capitalize on the unique material properties of such nano-architectures, applying them to the development of biological and chemical sensing devices, nanolithography, drug delivery mechanisms pared down to the molecular scale and a new breed of nanoelectronics.
The team used a versatile construction method known as DNA origami and in a dramatic extension of the technique, (which they refer to as DNA Kirigami), they cut the resulting Mbius shapes along their length to produce twisted ring structures and interlocking loops known as catenanes.
Their work appears in today's advanced online issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Graduate students involved in this work include Dongran Han and Suchetan Pal in the Yan group.
Making a Mbius strip in the everyday world is easy. Cut a narrow strip of paper, bring the two ends of the strip close to each other so that they match, but give them a half-twist before fastening the ends together with a piece of scotch tape. The resulting Mbius strip, which has only one surface and one boundary edge, is an example of a topological form.
"As nanoarchitects," Yan says, "we strive to create two classes of structuregeometric and topological." Geometric structures in two and three dimensions abound in the natural world, from complex crystal shapes to starfish, and unic
|Contact: Joe Caspermeyer|
Arizona State University