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Updated: 2018.4.13 22:17
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Drawing DNA with a Brush
[ Issue 151 Page 3 ] Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 22:51:07 Juhoon Lee Junior Staff Reporter juhoonlee@kaist.ac.kr

A co-op team of Professor Dong Ki Yoon and graduate student Yun Jeong Cha from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering designed an economic method of creating a periodic zigzag pattern of DNA material using a common makeup brush, launching a cost-effective, yet extensive approach for the field of optoelectronic research.

The limitations of conventional techniques used to build nanomaterials based on DNA, such as mechanical shearing, had been the prohibitive cost and complexity stemming from the usage of DNA samples with controlled sequences. To overcome such drawbacks, the researchers extracted far cheaper crude DNA samples from salmon instead. Using a makeup brush, the research team engineered a zigzag pattern of DNA material that spanned only about 2 nm in diameter, arranged in the direction of the stroke.

Afterwards, the thin film of DNA material dries when exposed to air, expanding the material and causing dilative stress. The stress interplays with DNA-elasticity to create a wave-like arrangement that becomes a periodic zigzag pattern. Though the DNA sample, obtained from an organism, lacks coordinated sequence, the overall periodic structure of the nanomaterial remains structurally regular. The zigzag configuration, and the resulting regular periodicity, increases the controllability of liquid crystals, which align to the DNA template.

Such uniformity also applies to biomaterials, semiconductors, and metal particles; the method is expected to serve an expedient role in the field of optoelectronic elements due to the wide application of the approach in creating a periodic template. Professor Yoon proclaimed, “[The technique] brings significance in that not just DNA, but naturally- forming biological materials such as protein, muscle cells, and cartilage have the potential to be used in optoelectronics research.”

The paper was published online in Advanced Materials on the November 15 issue and was selected as the “hot topic” in the field of liquid crystals.

Professor Dong Ki Yoon and PhD Candidate Yun Jeong Cha
DNA Brush


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