Deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, is a very special kind of molecule as it is able to contain all of the information needed to grow an organism. Because of this power, it has been studied extensively and researchers have found many ways to manipulate it. Now researchers at MIT and Harvard University have discovered a means to use DNA to etch structures into graphene.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon with many extraordinary properties, which is why many are working to incorporate it into electronics. One challenge with this effort though is creating the necessary graphene structures, such as ribbons. One method is to use electron beams to cut out the shapes, but this is an expensive and slow process. What the researchers decided to do was place pieces of synthetic DNA that form special shapes onto graphene and then coat the DNA in metal. The metallized DNA protected the graphene beneath it from plasma lithography, which burned away the uncovered graphene. After washing away the DNA, the researchers were left with the desired graphene structure.
This discovery could have a profound impact on many efforts concerning graphene as it could greatly ease fabrication efforts. One issue though is that the graphene structure left behind is not perfect, so this method is a little lacking in precision, but with more time, that may change.