Researchers reported the fabrication of microstructure arrays of DNA materials using topographic control. This method provides a platform for forming multiscale hierarchical orientations of soft and biomaterials using a process of simple shearing and controlled evaporation on a patterned substrate. This approach enables the potential of patterning applications using DNA or other anisotropic biomaterials.
DNA is one of the most abundant biomaterials found in all living organisms in nature. It has unique characteristics of fine feature size and liquid crystalline phase, enabling to create various kinds of microstructure DNA arrays. Based on these characteristics, DNA has been used as a building block for “origami” and textile art at the nanometer scale.
A KAIST research team led by Professors Dong Ki Yoon and Hyungsoo Kim fabricated a DNA-based micropatch using the “coffee ring effect” and its multi-angle control technology, which was published online in Nature Communications on June 7.
The research team used cheap DNA material extracted from salmon to realize the micropatch structure with well-aligned knit or ice cream cone shapes. When the DNA material in an aqueous solution is rubbed between two solid substrates while water is evaporating, DNA chains are unidirectionally aligned to make a thin film such as in LCD display devices. The DNA chains can make more complex microstructures such as knit or a texture with ice cream cone shapes when the same procedure is carried out in topographical patterns like microposts (Figure 1). This can be applied to make metamaterials by mixing with functionalized gold nanorods to show plasmonic color.
Plasmon resonance is a phenomenon in which electrons vibrate uniformly on the surface of a substrate made of metal, reacting only to light that matches a specific energy to enhance the clarity and expression of colors. For this, the most important factor is the orientation in which the gold nanorods align. That is, when the rods are aligned side by side in one direction, the optical and electrical characteristics are maximized. The research team focused on this point and made the DNA micropatch as a frame to orient the gold nanorods in a unique shape and fabricated a plasmonic color film (Figure 2).
Professor Yoon said this study is meaningful in that it deals with the evaporation phenomenon, which has not been studied much in the field of polymers and biopolymers in terms of basic science. He explained, “This will also help maximize the efficiency of polymeric materials that can be orientated in coating, 2D, and 3D printing applications. Furthermore, DNA that exists infinitely in nature can be expected to have industrial application value as a new material since it can easily form complexes with other materials as described in this study.”