Such a crystal lattice is potentially a central ingredient to a device known as a photonic crystal, which can manipulate light very precisely, blocking certain colors or wavelengths of light while letting other colors pass. While 3-D photonic crystals exist that can bend light at longer wavelengths, such as the infrared, this lattice is capable of manipulating visible light. Scientists foresee many applications for such crystals, such as optical computing and telecommunications, but manufacturing and durability remain serious challenges.
It was three years ago that Park, as part of a larger team of colleagues at Northwestern University, first produced a crystal lattice with a similar method, using DNA to link gold nanospheres. The new work is the first to combine particles with such different properties hard gold nanoparticles and more flexible organic particles.
Within the new structure, there are actually two distinct forces at work, Park said. The gold particles and the viral particles repel each other, but their deterrence is countered by the attraction between the strategically placed complementary strands of DNA. Both phenomena play a role in creating the rigid crystal lattice. It's a little bit like how countering forces keep our curtains up: A spring in a curtain rod pushes the rod to lengthen, while brackets on the window frame counter that force, creating a taut, rigid device.
|Contact: Tom Rickey|
University of Rochester Medical Center