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DNA cages as molds Researchers from McGill University (Montreal, Que., Canada; www.mcgill.ca) have chemically imprinted polymer particles with DNA strands — a technique that could lead to new materials for applications ranging from biomedicine to the promising field of “soft robotics” (robotics made with soft, flexible structures that can change shape in response to external stimuli). The method, described in a recent issue of Nature Chemistry, “introduces a programmable level of organization that is currently difficult to attain in polymer chemistry,” says McGill chemistry professor Hanadi Sleiman, senior author of the study. “Chemically copying the information contained in DNA nanostructures offers a powerful solution to the problem of size, shape and directional control for polymeric materials.” Although polymers are widely used, most self-assembled polymer structures have been limited to symmetrical forms, such as spherical or cylindrical shapes. Recently, however, scientists have focused on creating non-symmetrical polymer structures — for example “Janus” particles with two different “faces” — and they are starting to discover new applications for these materials. Together with colleagues at the…
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