Organization of 'nanocrystal molecules' using DNA

Nature. 1996 Aug 15;382(6592):609-11. doi: 10.1038/382609a0.


Patterning matter on the nanometre scale is an important objective of current materials chemistry and physics. It is driven by both the need to further miniaturize electronic components and the fact that at the nanometre scale, materials properties are strongly size-dependent and thus can be tuned sensitively. In nanoscale crystals, quantum size effects and the large number of surface atoms influence the, chemical, electronic, magnetic and optical behaviour. 'Top-down' (for example, lithographic) methods for nanoscale manipulation reach only to the upper end of the nanometre regime; but whereas 'bottom-up' wet chemical techniques allow for the preparation of mono-disperse, defect-free crystallites just 1-10 nm in size, ways to control the structure of nanocrystal assemblies are scarce. Here we describe a strategy for the synthesis of 'nanocrystal molecules', in which discrete numbers of gold nanocrystals are organized into spatially defined structures based on Watson-Crick base-pairing interactions. We attach single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides of defined length and sequence to individual nanocrystals, and these assemble into dimers and trimers on addition of a complementary single-stranded DNA template. We anticipate that this approach should allow the construction of more complex two- and three-dimensional assemblies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biopolymers
  • Crystallization
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / ultrastructure
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Microchemistry
  • Miniaturization
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Particle Size


  • Biopolymers
  • Gold
  • DNA