Nanoscale magnets to actuate DNA machines?

  • Could one self-assemble magnetic nanoparticles (permanent magnets to be twisted, or metal that will be pulled by external magnetic fields) into a DNA origami nanomachine, and use them for actuation?

    If the position of one magnet interfered mechanically with the motion of another magnet, then you could build rod-logic, and decode a series of external field manipulations into arbitrary patterns of actuation.

    Small particles for computation, larger particles for actuation (force should scale as cube of length).

    Of course, rod-logic can directly sense physical/mechanical state, including some kinds of molecule binding.

  • Any reason to favor magnetic force over electrostatic force? I ask because pretty much all of organic chemistry depends on things happening because of electrostatic polarities rather than magnetic polarities.

    That said, I don't see why not. I couldn't find any work that seemed to be directly relevant to your question, but a cursory search of the web yielded a lot of interesting stuff using magnetic nano-particles in biological systems.

  • Chris,

    In general, I like your idea. (At a meta level, I like that you are always coming up with innovative ideas, as well.) However, while I admit I have not done the detailed calculations, scaling as the cube works both ways of course. My intuition is that the net magnetic moments at scales of a few nm would be too feeble / unreliable to be practical. As Jim alluded to, the electrostatic forces would I suspect overwhelm the magnetic forces at that scale. The volatility of magnetic domains that small could also be a problem. Perhaps a quick calculation of the hysteresis of a magnetic domain at that scale compared with, say, one kT of energy would be worthwhile.


    Steven C. Vetter

    President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

    4105 Countryview Drive

    Eagan, MN 55123

    (651) 285-4299

Participate now!

Don’t have an account yet? Register yourself now and be a part of our community!