Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA strands that select nanotubes are first step to a practical 'quantum wire'

Date:
August 4, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
DNA, a molecule famous for storing the genetic blueprints for all living things, can do other things as well. In a new paper, researchers describe how tailored single strands of DNA can be used to purify the highly desired "armchair" form of carbon nanotubes. Armchair-form single wall carbon nanotubes are needed to make "quantum wires" for low-loss, long distance electricity transmission and wiring.

Wrapped up in their work: this molecular model shows a single-strand DNA molecule (yellow ribbon) coiled around an "armchair" carbon nanotube.
Credit: Roxbury, Jagota/NIST

DNA, a molecule famous for storing the genetic blueprints for all living things, can do other things as well. In a new paper, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describe how tailored single strands of DNA can be used to purify the highly desired "armchair" form of carbon nanotubes. Armchair-form single wall carbon nanotubes are needed to make "quantum wires" for low-loss, long distance electricity transmission and wiring.

Single-wall carbon nanotubes are usually about a nanometer in diameter, but they can be millions of nanometers in length. It's as if you took a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, arranged in a hexagonal pattern, and curled it into a cylinder, like rolling up a piece of chicken wire. If you've tried the latter, you know that there are many possibilities, depending on how carefully you match up the edges, from neat, perfectly matched rows of hexagons ringing the cylinder, to rows that wrap in spirals at various angles -- "chiralities" in chemist-speak.

Chirality plays an important role in nanotube properties. Most behave like semiconductors, but a few are metals. One special chiral form -- the so-called "armchair carbon nanotube"* -- behaves like a pure metal and is the ideal quantum wire, according to NIST researcher Xiaomin Tu.

Armchair carbon nanotubes could revolutionize electric power systems, large and small, Tu says. Wires made from them are predicted to conduct electricity 10 times better than copper, with far less loss, at a sixth the weight. But researchers face two obstacles: producing totally pure starting samples of armchair nanotubes, and "cloning" them for mass production. The first challenge, as the authors note, has been "an elusive goal."

Separating one particular chirality of nanotube from all others starts with coating them to get them to disperse in solution, as, left to themselves, they'll clump together in a dark mass. A variety of materials have been used as dispersants, including polymers, proteins and DNA. The NIST trick is to select a DNA strand that has a particular affinity for the desired type of nanotube. In earlier work, team leader Ming Zheng and colleagues demonstrated DNA strands that could select for one of the semiconductor forms of carbon nanotubes, an easier target. In this new paper, the group describes how they methodically stepped through simple mutations of the semiconductor-friendly DNA to "evolve" a pattern that preferred the metallic armchair nanotubes instead.

"We believe that what happens is that, with the right nanotube, the DNA wraps helically around the tube," explains Constantine Khripin, "and the DNA nucleotide bases can connect with each other in a way similar to how they bond in double-stranded DNA." According to Zheng, "The DNA forms this tight barrel around the nanotube. I love this idea because it's kind of a lock and key. The armchair nanotube is a key that fits inside this DNA structure -- you have this kind of molecular recognition."

Once the target nanotubes are enveloped with the DNA, standard chemistry techniques such as chromatography can be used to separate them from the mix with high efficiency.

"Now that we have these pure nanotube samples," says team member Angela Hight Walker, "we can probe the underlying physics of these materials to further understand their unique properties. As an example, some optical features once thought to be indicative of metallic carbon nanotubes are not present in these armchair samples."

* From the distinctive shape of the edge of the cylinder.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Xiaomin Tu, Angela R. Hight Walker, Constantine Y. Khripin, Ming Zheng. Evolution of DNA Sequences Toward Recognition of Metallic Armchair Carbon Nanotubes. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 110728080027017 DOI: 10.1021/ja205407q
  2. Xiaomin Tu, Suresh Manohar, Anand Jagota, Ming Zheng. DNA sequence motifs for structure-specific recognition and separation of carbon nanotubes. Nature, 2009; 460 (7252): 250 DOI: 10.1038/nature08116

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "DNA strands that select nanotubes are first step to a practical 'quantum wire'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102903.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, August 4). DNA strands that select nanotubes are first step to a practical 'quantum wire'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102903.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "DNA strands that select nanotubes are first step to a practical 'quantum wire'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102903.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins