Researchers have coopted DNA for a non-biological use -- sorting carbon nanotubes. A new linkurl:study; reports that synthetic DNA molecules can form paper-like sheets that can be used to separate nanotubes of different diameters, lengths, chiralities, and electronic properties. The study reveals some of "the richness of the structural motifs that nucleic acids may have," said Ming Zheng, a biochemist and materials scientist at the DuPont Central Research and Development linkurl:Experimental Station; in Wilmington, Delaware, who led the research. "The structural variety of DNA is yet to be fully explored. There's a lot to be learned."
A nanotube wrapped by two hydrogen
bonded strands of DNA

Image: Xiaomin Tu, DuPont
Carbon nanotubes have been heralded as a wonder-material with superb mechanical and electrical building properties. But current synthesis techniques create non-uniform amalgams of nanotubes of different shapes and sizes, which hampers their large-scale utility. The new DNA molecules provide an...

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