Litters of self-replicating origami cross-tiles

Rebecca Zhuo, Feng Zhou, Xiaojin He, Ruojie Sha, Nadrian C. Seeman, Paul M. Chaikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-replication and exponential growth are ubiquitous in nature but until recently there were few examples of artificial self-replication. Often replication is a templated process where a parent produces a single offspring, doubling the population in each generation. Many species however produce more than one offspring at a time, enabling faster population growth and higher probability of species perpetuation. We have made a system of cross-shaped origami tiles that yields a number of offspring, four to eight or more, depending on the concentration of monomer units to be assembled. The parent dimer template serves as a seed to crystallize a one-dimensional crystal, a ladder. The ladder rungs are then UV-cross-linked and the offspring are then released by heating, to yield a litter of autonomous daughters. In the complement study, we also optimize the growth conditions to speed up the process and yield a 10 3 increase in the growth rate for the single-offspring replication system. Self-replication and exponential growth of autonomous motifs is useful for fundamental studies of selection and evolution as well as for materials design, fabrication, and directed evolution. Methods that increase the growth rate, the primary evolutionary drive, not only speed up experiments but provide additional mechanisms for evolving materials toward desired functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1952-1957
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • 1D crystal
  • Cross-tile DNA origami
  • Exponential growth
  • Multiple offspring
  • Self-replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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