A tiny space shuttle made out of DNA “LEGO bricks” shows how scientists could someday build new technologies on the smallest scales.
Image: DNA ‘bricks’ can self-assemble into complex 3D shapes such as a miniature space shuttle. Credit:Kurt V. Gothelf | Yonggang Ke et al
Single DNA strands became “LEGO bricks” that could assemble together by themselves into 102 individual 3D shapes. Harvard researchers manipulated the DNA coding of the bricks so that they could form solid shapes such as the tiny shuttle, honeycomb structures, and even “written” features on a solid base such as numbers and letters of the English alphabet.
“Once we know how to compile the correct code of complex shapes and add it to the synthetic DNA strands, everything else is simple and natural,” said Yonggang Ke, a chemist at Harvard University. “Those DNA strands are like smart LEGO bricks that know exactly where to go by themselves.”