Nanotech news

From: Randy Smith (
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 23:54:01 MDT

Excerpt of a news story at

Tiny Machine Uses DNA to Do Its Work
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tiny machine that can physically bend DNA to do its
work may be just the first member of a whole generation of microscopic
robots, Swiss researchers said on Friday.

They might be used to diagnose medical conditions, read genes or operate
microscopic valves for precise drug delivery, the team at IBM Research in
Zurich and the University of Basel in Switzerland said.

Writing in the journal Science, they said they found that DNA can be used to
bend tiny silicon ``fingers'' that have a thickness of less than one
fiftieth of a human hair.

They rigged up a system of these little cantilevers -- anchored at one end
and free to bend up and down at the other -- and glued single strands of DNA
onto the top.

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DNA naturally forms a double helix like a twisted ladder, and when cut apart
will naturally try to put itself back together again.

When the researchers put their cantilevers into a solution with the missing
halves of the DNA strands, the pairs zipped themselves together and the
little cantilevers bent under the force....
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