DNA is not only a popular research topic because it contains the blueprint for life -- it can also be used to produce tiny components for technical applications. In a process known as DNA origami, scientists can manipulate the genetic material in such a way that folding the DNA strands creates tiny two- and three-dimensional structures. These can be used, for example, as containers for pharmaceutical substances, as conductive tubes and as highly sensitive sensors.
To be able to form the desired shapes, it is important to be familiar with the structure, the elasticity and the binding forces of the DNA components being used. These physical parameters cannot be measured at room temperature, because the molecules are constantly in motion.
Temperatures - Team - Professor - Ernst - Meyer
The same is not true at low temperatures: the team led by Professor Ernst Meyer from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the University of Basel's Department of Physics have now used cryo-force microscopy for the first time to characterize DNA molecules and examine their binding forces and elasticity.
The scientists placed only few nanometer long DNA strands containing 20-cytosine nucleotides on a gold surface. At a temperature of 5 Kelvin, one end of the DNA strand was then pulled upwards using the tip of an atomic force microscope. In the process, the individual components of the...
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