For over half a century, the biological roles of nucleic acids as catalytic enzymes, intracellular regulatory molecules, and the carriers of genetic information have been studied extensively. More recently, the sequence-specific binding properties of DNA have been exploited to direct the assembly of materials at the nanoscale. Integral to any methodology focused on assembling matter from smaller pieces is the idea that final structures have well-defined spacings, orientations, and stereo-relationships. This requirement can be met by using DNA-based constructs that present oriented nanoscale bonding elements from rigid core units. Here, we draw analogy between such building blocks and the familiar chemical concepts of "bonds" and "valency" and review two distinct but related strategies that have used this design principle in constructing new configurations of matter.
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