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World's smallest Mona Lisa 'painted' with DNA

Press Trust of India  |  Los Angeles 

Scientists have created the world's smallest copy of Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting 'Mona Lisa' using

Researchers from California Institute of Technology in the US developed an inexpensive method by which origami self-assembles into large arrays with entirely customisable patterns, creating a sort of canvas that can display any image.


While is perhaps best known for encoding the genetic information of living things, the molecule is also an excellent chemical building block.

A single-stranded molecule is composed of smaller molecules called nucleotides - abbreviated A, T, C and G - arranged in a string, or sequence.

The nucleotides in a single-stranded molecule can bond with those of another single strand to form double- stranded DNA, but the nucleotides bind only in very specific ways: an A nucleotide with a T or a C nucleotide with a G.

These strict base-pairing "rules" make it possible to design origami.

A large canvas is assembled out of many smaller square origami tiles, like putting together a puzzle.

Molecules can be selectively attached to the staples in order to create a raised pattern that can be seen using atomic force microscopy.

Researchers developed software that can take an image such as the Mona Lisa, divide it up into small square sections, and determine the sequences needed to make up those squares.

They then got those sections to self-assemble into a superstructure that recreates the

"To make our technique readily accessible to other researchers who are interested in exploring applications using micrometre-scale flat nanostructures, we developed an online software tool that converts the user's desired image to strands and wet-lab protocols," said Lulu Qian, assistant professor at Caltech.

"The protocol can be directly read by a liquid-handling robot to automatically mix the strands together. The nanostructure can be assembled effortlessly," Qian said.

Using the online software tool and automatic liquid- handling techniques, several other patterns were designed and assembled from strands, including a life-sized portrait of a bacterium and a bacterium-sized portrait of a rooster.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 07 2017. 11:20 IST
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