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DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track

Steady progress in structural DNA nanotechnology over the past several years has seen the improvement of DNA machines that walk along DNA tracks as harbingers of future molecular assembly lines. For the two most recent posts here, see “DNA nanorobot walks without intervention along rigid track” and “DNA-based ‘robotic’ assembly begins” Another step towards DNA-based molecular assembly is reported by nanotechweb.org, written by Belle Dumé “Nanobots move on” (requires free registration):

A team of physicists at the University of Oxford in the UK has designed a molecular robot that can be programmed to move in any direction along a branched track. Such control was not possible until now because previous devices were only able to move forwards in a straight line. The robot might find use in nanotechnology applications such as next-generation molecular machines and be used to move “cargo”, like drugs.

Researchers recently succeeded in building a molecular motor that “walks” in a single direction instead of wandering about randomly. This feat was already a breakthrough because it was difficult to coordinate the movement of the motor’s two “legs” so that they moved in a synchronized way without the legs coming off a predefined track.

Now, Andrew Turberfield’s team at Oxford has gone a step further by designing a nanorobot, or nanobot, that can be made to move in any direction along the track, as well as backwards and forwards. In contrast to previous bipedal motors, the new device only has one leg (made of synthetic DNA) anchored to a nanoscale track made of a double-stranded DNA backbone. The robot walks by taking tiny steps that involve its leg tethering and untethering to the DNA backbone and the machine is powered by different “fuel” DNA strands that push it along.

Spurred on by these new results, the team would now like to move the motor over longer tracks. “Using concepts and mechanisms developed in this research, we would also like to coordinate assembly of a chemical product, where a nanorobot moves between locations and picks up ingredients in a reaction,” added Muscat. “This would be a nanoscale production line.”

The results were described in Nano Letters [abstract].

6 Responses to “DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track”

  1. Tweets that mention the Foresight Institute » Blog Archive » DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track -- Topsy.com Says:

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  2. Instapundit » Blog Archive » NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track…. Says:

    [...] NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track. [...]

  3. SenatorMark4 Says:

    This is exciting in the extreme! It was only months ago that someone reported success in what basically represents the end-point of photosynthesis. Now we’re developing potential nano-production lines. I’m guessing that Krogh’s Principle will eventually lead researchers to having our own little photosysnthetic factories building the hydrogen economy…finally

  4. flashgordon Says:

    There’s a lot of different exciting enabling nanotechnology going on; there’s nanowires, uniform production of nanotubes and graphine; rna nanotech; all these things can combine with one another to overcome each others weaknesses; there’s also Zyvex right down there in teyxus!(i’m just waiting to here when they beyond fifty atoms a second!)

  5. the Foresight Institute » Blog Archive » AFM visualization of molecular robot moving along DNA scaffold (with video) Says:

    [...] month ago we reported that Andrew Turberfield’s team at the University of Oxford in the UK had built a molecular robot [...]

  6. Satellite “Mind Control” – Bioelectric Weapons « blomblad i vinden Says:

    [...] predictions of molecules and solids 2011 First programmable nanowire circuits for nanoprocessors DNA molecular robots learn to walk in any direction along a branched track Mechanical manipulation of silicon dimers on a silicon [...]

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