Art as a Stimulus for Structural DNA Nanotechnology

Nadrian C. Seeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The linear, double-helical structure of DNA was initially recognized as beautiful, as well as being informative about the mechanism of heredity. Recently, branched DNA molecules have been used to produce nanoscale objects, crystals and machines, all the products of a new field: structural DNA nanotechnology. The inspiration for much of this work has been art, starting from the notion that Escher's woodcut Depth was analogous to a molecular crystal of branched DNA. The article describes how connecting branched molecules together with the "sticky ends" used by genetic engineers has led to 3D crystals, and how Dalí's Butterfly Landscape illuminates the relationship between wrappings of DNA and the crossings in knots or links. Disparate aesthetic patterns are related to branched DNA motifs and constructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Music
  • Computer Science Applications


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