New 'nanoslinky' manipulates and measures DNA molecules
Using a new technology, scientists have created a ‘nanoslinky’ that manipulates and measures DNA molecules and other nanoscale materials. On the nanoscale fluidic channel shaped like a staircase, a strand of DNA will diffuse randomly across the step. The DNA strand ‘walks’ down to the next step when it reaches the edge. Researchers have deemed this process ‘entropophoresis,’ or entropy-driven transport. The process ends when the DNA becomes trapped on the deepest step at the bottom. Because the motion of the resembles that of a Slinky toy, the researchers nicknamed the system the ‘nanoslinky.’ Since DNA molecules of different sizes and shapes descend at different rate, the structure may be useful in separating, concentrating, and organizing mixtures of nanoscale objects. Eventually, the technology may be mass produced for not just DNA molecules, but other types of materials for health care and nanomanufacturing.