The most immediate candidate for this innovation is the DNA microarray, a nano-device used to diagnose and understand genetic illnesses such as Alzheimer's, viral illnesses such as AIDS, and certain types of cancer. The ability to mass produce these complex devices would make DNA analysis as common and inexpensive as blood testing, and thus greatly accelerate efforts to discover the origins of disease.
The demand for ever-shrinking devices of ever-increasing complexity in areas from biomedicine to information technology has spurred several research efforts toward high-resolution, high-throughput nano-printing techniques. Now researchers led by Professor Francesco Stellacci of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering have developed a printing method that is unmatched in both information content per printing cycle and resolution. They achieved the latter using what Arum Amy Yu, an MSE graduate student and member of the research team, calls "nature's most efficient printing technique: the DNA/RNA information transfer."
A paper on the work was published in May in the ASAP online section of the journal Nano Letters. Stellacci and Yu's coauthors are Professor Henry Smith and Tim Savas from MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Research Laboratory of Electronics, and G. Scott Taylor and Anthony Guiseppe-Elie from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In the new printing method, called Supramolecular Nano-Stamping (SuNS), single strands of DNA essentially self-assemble upon a surface to duplicate a nano-scale pattern made of their complementary DNA strands. The duplicates are identical to the master and can thus be used as masters themselves. This increases print output exponentially while ena
Contact: Elizabeth Thomson, MIT News Office
Massachusetts Institute of Technology