DNA-templated assembly and electrode attachment of a conducting silver wire

Nature. 1998 Feb 19;391(6669):775-8. doi: 10.1038/35826.


Recent research in the field of nanometre-scale electronics has focused on two fundamental issues: the operating principles of small-scale devices, and schemes that lead to their realization and eventual integration into useful circuits. Experimental studies on molecular to submicrometre quantum dots and on the electrical transport in carbon nanotubes have confirmed theoretical predictions of an increasing role for charging effects as the device size diminishes. Nevertheless, the construction of nanometre-scale circuits from such devices remains problematic, largely owing to the difficulties of achieving inter-element wiring and electrical interfacing to macroscopic electrodes. The use of molecular recognition processes and the self-assembly of molecules into supramolecular structures might help overcome these difficulties. In this context, DNA has the appropriate molecular-recognition and mechanical properties, but poor electrical characteristics prevent its direct use in electrical circuits. Here we describe a two-step procedure that may allow the application of DNA to the construction of functional circuits. In our scheme, hybridization of the DNA molecule with surface-bound oligonucleotides is first used to stretch it between two gold electrodes; the DNA molecule is then used as a template for the vectorial growth of a 12 microm long, 100 nm wide conductive silver wire. The experiment confirms that the recognition capabilities of DNA can be exploited for the targeted attachment of functional wires.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrodes*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Silver / chemistry*
  • Templates, Genetic


  • Silver
  • DNA