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DNA nanorobots cooperate to compute in a living animal

Foresight Update 28.01—January 13, 2015
ISSN 1078-9731

Nanotech News

Discuss these news stories at http://foresight.org/nanodot.

In this issue:

What sort of abundance will nanotechnology bring?

In connection with Foresight’s mission of promoting transformative technologies, it is of interest to occasionally take note of how various commentators in other areas view the advancement of nanotechnology toward atomically precise manufacturing. Do they take this prospect seriously? Do they understand the implications? Do they view such a future fearfully or hopefully? Foresight President Paul Melnyk forwards this link to an article written by George Smith on a site devoted to gold prices, stocks, and related news. …

Piezoelectric monolayer joins toolkit for nanomanipulation

Scanning probe microscopes provide powerful tools to image and to directly manipulate atoms and molecules on surfaces. Because piezoelectricity in bulk crystals makes scanning probe microscopes possible, the discovery of piezoelectricity in a single molecular layer of the semiconductor molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) brings a new dimension (pun intended) to the manipulation of molecules, atoms, and individual chemical bonds, as well as to other applications in which the ability to precisely sense and generate mechanical forces is key. …

Swarms of DNA nanorobots execute complex tasks in living animal

Arguably the most exciting area of application for nanotechnology is medicine, especially sophisticated methods of drug delivery to increase potency and decrease adverse side effects. These span the range from current laboratory and clinical studies of incremental nanotechnology to visionary studies of complex nanomedical robots that will be feasible after the development of productive nanosystems and molecular manufacturing/high throughput atomically precise manufacturing. … [It has become] possible to fabricate functional DNA nanostructures incorporating logic gates to deliver and release molecular cargo for medical applications, as we reported a couple years ago] … Now Christine Peterson forwards this news from Brian Wang at NextBIGfuture about another major advance in sophisticated DNA nanorobots for medical application …

New software reveals more molecular machine structures

With the development of artificial molecular machines still at an early stage, natural biological molecular machines, mostly protein molecules, still provide most information about how molecular machines work. Crucial to extracting this information is knowledge of the 3D structures of these molecules, usually obtained by arduous analysis of X-ray diffraction of protein crystals. Scientists in the US and UK have now reported software advances that will allow many more molecular machines to be studied. …

Small molecule nanorobot walks through a protein nanopore

Molecular robots made of DNA that walk along a molecular track made of DNA have been around for a decade, gradually becoming more sophisticated …. But DNA is a large molecule. Now walking molecular robots have shrunk another order of magnitude in size with the report of a small molecule walker taking 0.6 nm steps through a protein nanopore. …

Computational framework for structural DNA nanotechnology

… Among the specific recommendations of the 2007 Productive Nanosystems Technology Roadmap are (1) the development of modular molecular composite nanosystems (MMCNs) in which “million-atom-scale DNA frameworks with dense arrays of distinct, addressable, [atomically precise] binding sites” provide scaffolds for organizing various nanoscale functional components (page x of Executive Summary of Productive Nanosystems: A Technology Roadmap PDF), and (2) “Prioritize modeling and design software as critical elements in the development and exploitation of [Atomically Precise Manufacturing], [Atomically Precise Productive Nanosystems], and spinoff [Atomically Precise Technologies] applications” (page ix of Executive Summary). An MIT news release written by Anne Trafton has announced major progress toward implementing both of these recommendations …

New way to couple carbon atoms yields novel molecular architectures

One way to look at the evolution of nanotechnology toward molecular manufacturing/atomically precise manufacturing is as the extension of synthetic chemistry to making larger and more complex molecules. Accordingly, any new method for forming carbon-carbon bonds is potentially of interest to nanotechnologists, especially if it becomes possible to create molecular architectures that were previously difficult or impossible to create. …

Artificial enzymes created from building blocks not found in nature

Earlier this year we pointed to progress made at The Scripps Research Institute toward the long-held goal of expanding the genetic alphabet, and thus expanding the repertoire of 20 genetically encoded amino acids available for protein design and protein engineering. Further expanding the opportunities for synthetic biology to enable the development of complex molecular machines is a recent report from the British Laboratory in which the structure of DNA was discovered 61 years ago. Unlike the earlier report, which added an additional base pair to the genetic alphabet, or another recent report, in which new protein structures not found in nature were invented, the latest UK advance demonstrates that synthetic substitutes for the ribose and deoxyribose sugars found in RNA and DNA can be used to create artificial enzymes, using building blocks not found in nature. …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

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