Faster and smaller electronics of all kinds may come from a new manufacturing technique developed in Australia.

‘DNA origami’ can turn previously one-dimensional nanomaterials into two dimensional forms.

Engineers at the University of Melbourne and New York University have collaborated to create the new technique, and say that DNA origami will enable currently impossible structures to spring into reality.

The breakthrough was published in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology,

“We can now take linear nano-materials and direct how they are organised in two dimensions, using a DNA origami platform to create any number of shapes,” explains NYU Chemistry Professor Nadrian Seeman, the paper’s lead author, who founded and developed the field of DNA nanotechnology three decades ago.

“We brought together two of life’s building blocks, DNA and protein, in an exciting new way, growing protein fibres within a DNA origami structure,” said Australian collaborator Associate Professor Sally Gras from the Melbourne School of Engineering said

DNA origami uses approximately two hundred short DNA strands to direct longer strands in forming specific shapes. In their work, the scientists sought to create and then manipulate the shape of amyloid fibrils—rods of aggregated proteins or peptides that match the strength of spider’s silk.

“Fibrils are remarkably strong and, as such, are a good barometer for this method’s ability to form two-dimensional structures,” said Professor Seeman.

“If we can manipulate the orientations of fibrils, we can do the same with other linear materials in the future.”

He says there is plenty of promise for creating two-dimensional shapes on the nano scale.

“If we can make smaller and stronger materials in electronics and photonics, we have the potential to improve consumer products,” Seeman says.

“When components are smaller, it means the signals they transmit don’t need to go as far, which increases their operating speed. That’s why small is so exciting—you can make better structures on the tiniest chemical scales.”