Casting inorganic structures with DNA molds

Science. 2014 Nov 7;346(6210):1258361. doi: 10.1126/science.1258361. Epub 2014 Oct 9.


We report a general strategy for designing and synthesizing inorganic nanostructures with arbitrarily prescribed three-dimensional shapes. Computationally designed DNA strands self-assemble into a stiff "nanomold" that contains a user-specified three-dimensional cavity and encloses a nucleating gold "seed." Under mild conditions, this seed grows into a larger cast structure that fills and thus replicates the cavity. We synthesized a variety of nanoparticles with 3-nanometer resolution: three distinct silver cuboids with three independently tunable dimensions, silver and gold nanoparticles with diverse cross sections, and composite structures with homo- and heterogeneous components. The designer equilateral silver triangular and spherical nanoparticles exhibited plasmonic properties consistent with electromagnetism-based simulations. Our framework is generalizable to more complex geometries and diverse inorganic materials, offering a range of applications in biosensing, photonics, and nanoelectronics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Silver / chemistry*


  • Silver
  • Gold
  • DNA