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Nano Lett. 2009 Oct;9(10):3521-6. doi: 10.1021/nl901710n.

Directed hybridization and melting of DNA linkers using counterion-screened electric fields.

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Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 476 Lomita Mall, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Dynamic self-assembly using responsive, "smart" materials such as DNA is a promising route toward reversible assembly and patterning of nanostructures for error-corrected fabrication, enhanced biosensors, drug delivery and gene therapy. DNA linkers were designed with strategically placed mismatches, allowing rapid attachment and release from a surface in a counterion-screened electric field. These electrostatic fields are inherently highly localized, directing assembly with nanometer precision while avoiding harmful electrochemical reactions. We show that depending on the sign of the applied field, the DNA hybridization density is strongly enhanced or diminished due to the high negative charge density of immobilized DNA. This use of dynamic fields rather than static templates enables fabrication of heterogeneously hybridized electrodes with different functional moieties, despite the use of identical linker sequences.

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