Mechanical Design of DNA Nanostructures and Measurement Devices

SME 248 - Cymer Conference Center
Mechanical Design of DNA Nanostructures and Measurement Devices
Professor Carlos Castro
The Ohio State University
Structural DNA nanotechnology is a rapidly emerging field with great potential for applications such as single molecule sensing, drug delivery, and manipulating molecular components. Major advances in the last decade have enabled the precise design and fabrication of DNA nanostructures with unprecedented geometric complexity; however, relative to natural biomolecular machines, the functional scope of DNA nanotechnology is limited by an inability to design dynamic mechanical behavior such as complex motion, conformational dynamics, or force generation. Taking inspiration from methods used in macroscopic machine design, we have recently developed DNA nanostructures with well-defined 1D, 2D, and 3D motion including hinges, linear joints, and mechanisms with defined planar or spatial motion paths as well as bi-stable nanostructures that can undergo conformational changes via “snap-through” transitions. A major goal of this work is to develop devices where mechanical behavior can be exploited to probe nanoscale physical properties (e.g. viscosity) or interactions (e.g. molecular forces). We have currently designed a two-state device where the kinetics of conformational transitions can serve as a reporter of local osmotic pressure. Given that these devices are ~50-100nm in size, in the future, they could implemented to probe physical properties such as pressure, viscosity, forces, or shear flow in systems such as complex fluids, nano- or micro-fluidic devices, or even in biological cells
Professor Castro received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering both in 2005 from The Ohio State University and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009 studying the physical properties of biopolymers and cells using optical trapping approaches. He then spent 1.5 years as an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at the Technische Universität München working in the field of DNA nanotechnology. Dr. Castro started as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State University in 2011 and has established a state-of-the-art laboratory focused on developing self-assembled DNA nano-devices to probe biophysical function of molecular and cellular systems.

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