© 2011 Hao Yan and Dongran Han

ScienceShot: A Vase Made From DNA

Scientists have fashioned perhaps the most elaborate piece of DNA origami yet: a tiny three-dimensional vase just 70 nanometers tall. For 5 years, researchers have been able to create nanostructures out of DNA, but until now most of the shapes have been fairly boring, like boxes or polygons, because they needed to be folded around a grid of DNA pegs or "pixels." In their paper published online today in Science, researchers describe a new origami technique, in which they begin by forming rings of different radii with DNA strands. They stack these rings on top of one another to form the basic 3D shape, and then insert "crossover points" to blend the DNA strands into adjacent rings, holding the structure together. They hope that their vase, pictured above in an atomic force microscope image and a computer-generated image, could be used in medicine to deliver drugs or enzymes to specific parts of the body.

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