Multiple Wavelength Photopolymerization of Stable Poly(Catecholamines)-DNA Origami Nanostructures

January 18, 2022

​Polymer engineering at the nanoscale has now a greater toolbox to construct 3-D architectures that are unattainable by conventional polymerization technologies. Using folded DNA origami as a template, polymers can be grown in patterns and assimilate a designated shape. Combined with multi-wavelength photopolymerization methods, we show that spatial and temporal control over polymer nanostructures can be made accessible to the broad scientific community.

Miniaturization of components in the fields of electronics, biomedicine and materials science remain essential to create the next generation devices with an increase function to space footprint. Although top-down methods such as lithography have become mainstream in both commercial and industrial scales, bottom up approaches provide complementary techniques to widen substrate compatibility and design concepts. In this paper, we described the use of DNA nanotechnology to guide the patterning and growth of polymers such that they can achieve both nanoscale precision and shape customization.

To demonstrate the versatility of the approach, a long strand of DNA is first folded into a desired nanoscale object, in this case a tube spanning 100 nm in length and 22 nm in width. The folding technology enables the surface of the object to have grid-like coordinates, where each position is fully customizable. As such, we decorate different photocatalysts in specific ring patterns onto its surface and initiates a polymerization reaction with catecholamines as monomers. As each photocatalyst is activated at different wavelengths of light, monomers can find their way to the respective activated catalyst guided by the incident light. The amount, type and pattern of polymers grown can be individually customized and that complex structural engineering containing two different type of polymer components can be constructed onto a single nano-object.

The demonstrated technology facilitates 3-D engineering of nanoscale objects with multiple polymeric components with user-defined structural characteristics and complexity.

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