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The progressive improvement of microlithographic techniques underlined the advancement of miniaturization and high density integration of electronic components, supporting the well known Moore's law. However, many believe Moore's law is coming to a halt due to limitations of top-down approaches for device downsizing. Molecular self-assembly approach may be able to offer alternative solutions for nanoscale electronic elements.

Use of DNA as a template for the formation of conductive wires has already been demonstrated and use of DNA origami as the template for carbon nanotube electronic switch has been reported (Maune, 2010).
We propose to extend application of DNA origami based on the formation of vertical stacks for nanoscale electronic components.
Surface of DNA origami can be covered with conductive layer, such as a network of intersecting carbon nanotubes or metalized surface.
Vertical DNA origami stacks allow us to arrange two or more conductive surfaces and separate them by a defined distance.
Separation of two conductive surfaces by a dielectric constitutes a capacitor. Therefore vertical stack of conductive DNA origami separated by a dielectric could be constructed as a nanoscale capacitor.
Figure 41: Schematic representation of a nanoscale capacitor based on the vertical DNA origami stack. Both layers of DNA origami are covered with a conductive layer. In this illustration percolating metal nanoparticles cover one surface of each plate. Tethers between the two conductive layers can be made either from DNA or protein domains (as shown here), the latter being probably more rigid and resistant to modifications of DNA during the metallization procedure. The dielectric layer between the two conductive plates should be filled with a nonpolar polymer.
In a similar way we could fabricate a nanoscale battery from a combination of two DNA origami plates, covered by different materials for the appropriate combination of cathode and anode, in this case with a conductive electrolyte between them. We envisioned that the design could be improved by the use of an additional third DNA origami layer, positioned between cathode and anode. The function of the central DNA origami layer is as an ion permeable membrane that prevents short-circuiting of the conductive material deposited on each of the two side layers.

Figure 42: Schematic representation of a nanoscale battery based on the vertical DNA origami stack. Top and bottom layer of DNA origami are separately covered with different materials that compose the cathode and anode, respectively. Both electrodes self-assemble into a three-layered vertical stack using protein tethers with an intervening DNA origami layer that functions as an ion permeable membrane separating the cathode and anode compartments.
In addition to those two devices vertical stacks might be used as masks for the nanolithography for the deposition of a pattern of different materials onto different layers. Nanoscale dimensions and self-assembly process make those ideas potentially very appealing for technological applications, since there is a need for massively produced miniaturized tags and other electronic and optical nanodevices.

  • Maune HT, Han SP, Barish RD, Bockrath M, Goddard III WA, Rothemund PW, Winfree E (2010) Self-assembly of carbon nanotubes into two-dimensional geometries using DNA origami templates. Nat. Nanotechnol. 5:61-6.

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