Tweaked DNA Snippets Could Become Tiny Electrical 'On' Switches
Teensy "living" circuits based on DNA could lead to new ways for scientists to look inside cells and even see chemical reactions such as photosynthesis. However, to create such DNA devices, there has to be a way to run electricity through them. Until now, that has been a limiting factor.
But now, scientists have turned tiny snippets of DNA into molecular "on" switches that get electricity flowing on a miniscule scale. The molecular switches act on a scale 1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair, meaning they could be used to create tiny, cheap molecular devices, the researchers report in a new study.
The secret to creating these biological electrical switches was tweaking the letters that make up the genetic code.
"Charge transport is possible in DNA, but for a useful device, one wants to be able to turn the charge transport on and off," Nongjian Tao, a researcher with The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, said in a statement. "We achieved this goal by chemically modifying DNA." [Top 10 Inventions That Changed the World].