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Armchair science: DNA strands that select nanotubes are first step to a practical 'quantum wire'
Date:8/3/2011

sed as dispersants, including polymers, proteins and DNA. The NIST trick is to select a DNA strand that has a particular affinity for the desired type of nanotube. In earlier work,*** team leader Ming Zheng and colleagues demonstrated DNA strands that could select for one of the semiconductor forms of carbon nanotubes, an easier target. In this new paper, the group describes how they methodically stepped through simple mutations of the semiconductor-friendly DNA to "evolve" a pattern that preferred the metallic armchair nanotubes instead.

"We believe that what happens is that, with the right nanotube, the DNA wraps helically around the tube," explains Constantine Khripin, "and the DNA nucleotide bases can connect with each other in a way similar to how they bond in double-stranded DNA." According to Zheng, "The DNA forms this tight barrel around the nanotube. I love this idea because it's kind of a lock and key. The armchair nanotube is a key that fits inside this DNA structureyou have this kind of molecular recognition."

Once the target nanotubes are enveloped with the DNA, standard chemistry techniques such as chromatography can be used to separate them from the mix with high efficiency.

"Now that we have these pure nanotube samples," says team member Angela Hight Walker, "we can probe the underlying physics of these materials to further understand their unique properties. As an example, some optical features once thought to be indicative of metallic carbon nanotubes are not present in these armchair samples."


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Contact: Michael Baum
michael.baum@nist.gov
301-975-2763
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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