Materials scientists Thomas Mallouk and Christine Keating attached different DNA tags to wires that were a mere 6,000 nanometers (Nm) long and 200 Nm wide: By contrast, a human hair is 100,000 Nm wide. When the wires were put in solution with a gold film covered with complementary DNA strands, the wires were drawn to their DNA counterparts on the film and attached themselves.
The process wasn't perfect, however. Some mismatches occurred, and some untagged wires even stuck to the surface. Still, the researchers remain optimistic. In the next phase, they'll plant DNA tags on just the tips of the wires to see if the wires will then link together, end-to-end. If that works, it might eventually lead to a family of DNA-based recipes for various types of electronic-circuit modules. Think of nano-processors, or even nano-memory chips, all assembled spontaneously from the stuff of life. By Mitch Nelin EDITED BY Edited by Adam Aston