DNA Plus Nanotechnology Equal Light Antenna

Guest_Jim_* - July 14, 2011 10:03AM in Science & Technology

There are many things in nature that humanity has not yet learned to duplicate or be as efficient at. One example is photosynthesis, where plants channel energy from sunlight to a single site, which allows for greater efficiency than we have achieved in solar energy. We may be catching up to that one though. Researchers from the University of Toronto have created a new generation of nanomaterials that act as antennas for light; controlling and directing the energy from what it absorbs. What the team did was take quantum dots, particles of semiconductors that can very efficiently absorb and emit light at chosen wavelengths, and attached specific DNA sequences to them. When the different pairings were combined in a single beaker, the DNA self-assembled, bringing the quantum dots with it, to create an antenna for light. While the antenna is an important accomplishment, the assembly technique is also a great achievement, by demonstrating our ability to create precise structures, even at the scale of molecules.