Microchemomechanical devices using DNA hybridization

Guolong Zhu, Mark Hannel, Ruojie Sha, Feng Zhou, Matan Yah Ben Zion, Yin Zhang, Kyle Bishop, David Grier, Nadrian Seeman, Paul Chaikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The programmability of DNA oligonucleotides has led to sophisticated DNA nanotechnology and considerable research on DNA nanomachines powered by DNA hybridization. Here, we investigate an extension of this technology to the micrometer-colloidal scale, in which observations and measurements can be made in real time/space using optical microscopy and holographic optical tweezers. We use semirigid DNA origami structures, hinges with mechanical advantage, self-assembled into a nine-hinge, accordion-like chemomechanical device, with one end anchored to a substrate and a colloidal bead attached to the other end. Pulling the bead converts the mechanical energy into chemical energy stored by unzipping the DNA that bridges the hinge. Releasing the bead returns this energy in rapid (>20 μm/s) motion of the bead. Force-extension curves yield energy storage/retrieval in these devices that is very high. We also demonstrate remote activation and sensing—pulling the bead enables binding at a distant site. This work opens the door to easily designed and constructed micromechanical devices that bridge the molecular and colloidal/cellular scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023508118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 25 2021


  • Colloidal physics
  • DNA nanotechnology
  • Microchemomechanical devices
  • Self-assembly
  • Soft condensed matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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