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Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 25;6:8102. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9102.

A plasmonic nanorod that walks on DNA origami.

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Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Heisenbergstrasse 3, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany.


In nano-optics, a formidable challenge remains in precise transport of a single optical nano-object along a programmed and routed path toward a predefined destination. Molecular motors in living cells that can walk directionally along microtubules have been the inspiration for realizing artificial molecular walkers. Here we demonstrate an active plasmonic system, in which a plasmonic nanorod can execute directional, progressive and reverse nanoscale walking on two or three-dimensional DNA origami. Such a walker comprises an anisotropic gold nanorod as its 'body' and discrete DNA strands as its 'feet'. Specifically, our walker carries optical information and can in situ optically report its own walking directions and consecutive steps at nanometer accuracy, through dynamic coupling to a plasmonic stator immobilized along its walking track. Our concept will enable a variety of smart nanophotonic platforms for studying dynamic light-matter interaction, which requires controlled motion at the nanoscale well below the optical diffraction limit.

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