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Nano Lett. 2009 Jul;9(7):2690-6. doi: 10.1021/nl9011694.

Single-DNA molecule nanomotor regulated by photons.

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  • 1Center for Research at Bio/Nano Interface, Department of Chemistry, Shands Cancer Center, UF Genetics Institute and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-7200, USA.


We report the design of a single-molecule nanomotor driven by photons. The nanomotor is a DNA hairpin-structured molecule incorporated with azobenzene moieties to facilitate reversible photocontrollable switching. Upon repeated UV-vis irradiation, this nanomotor displayed 40-50% open-close conversion efficiency. This type of nanomotor displays well-regulated responses and can be operated under mild conditions with no output of waste. In contrast to multiple-component DNA nanomachines, the intramolecular interaction in this single-molecule system offers unique concentration-independent motor functionality. Moreover, the hairpin structure of the motor backbone can significantly improve the efficiency of light-to-movement energy conversion. These results suggest that azobenzene-incorporated, hairpin-structured single-molecule DNA nanomotors have promising potential for applications which require highly efficient light-driven molecular motors.

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