Topological interaction by entangled DNA loops

Lang Feng, Ruojie Sha, Nadrian C. Seeman, Paul M. Chaikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have discovered a new type of interaction between micro- or nanoscale particles that results from the entanglement of strands attached to their surfaces. Self-complementary DNA single strands on a particle can hybridize to form loops. A similar proximal particle can have its loops catenate with those of the first. Unlike conventional thermodynamic interparticle interactions, the catenation interaction is strongly history and protocol dependent, allowing for nonequilibrium particle assembly. The interactions can be controlled by an interesting combination of forces, temperature, light sensitive cross-linking and enzymatic unwinding of the topological links. This novel topological interaction may lead to new materials and phenomena such as particles strung on necklaces, confined motions on designed contours and surfaces, and colloidal Olympic gels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number188301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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