Biomolecular Assembly of Gold Nanocrystals
Over the past ten years, methods have been developed to construct discrete nanostructures using nanocrystals and biomolecules. While these frequently consist of gold nanocrystals and DNA, semiconductor nanocrystals as well as antibodies and enzymes have also been used. One example of discrete nanostructures is dimers of gold nanocrystals linked together with complementary DNA. This type of nanostructure is also known as a nanocrystal molecule. Discrete nanostructures of this kind have a number of potential applications, from highly parallel self-assembly of electronics components and rapid read-out of DNA computations to biological imaging and a variety of bioassays. My research focused in three main areas. The first area, the refinement of electrophoresis as a purification and characterization method, included application of agarose gel electrophoresis to the purification of discrete gold nanocrystal/DNA conjugates and nanocrystal molecules, as well as development of a more detailed understanding of the hydrodynamic behavior of these materials in gels. The second area, the development of methods for quantitative analysis of transmission electron microscope data, used computer programs written to find pair correlations as well as higher order correlations. With these programs, it is possible to reliably locate and measure nanocrystal molecules in TEM images. The final area of research explored the use of DNA ligase in the formation of nanocrystal molecules. Synthesis of dimers of gold particles linked with a single strand of DNA possible through the use of DNA ligase opens the possibility for amplification of nanostructures in a manner similar to polymerase chain reaction. These three areas are discussed in the context of the work in the Alivisatos group, as well as the field as a whole.