DNA origami

I get about five e-mails per day which announce a talk supported by the Physics Department, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Biomechanical Science and Engineering and so on. So there's a lot going on and the talks are usually highly interdisciplinary which makes them super interesting. We've got an institute for theoretical physics next door which is a great input for all kinds of modeling ideas (e.g. I attended a talk yesterday about theory of mechanical properties for thin elastic sheets).

DNA origami (wikipedia).

Today Prof. Tim Liedl from the LMU in Germany presented his research about "DNA origami" which is indeed about looking at DNA parts as LEGO blocks and connecting them in a way that you can build a lot of different structures. It was especially exciting to see that it's possible to program shapes (e.g. a smiley) and the DNA assembles into exactly this shape and not into some random configuration. To achieve this, short DNA strings are coded so that the only have one partner for a certain sight.

That's one of the points why DNA is so cool and often used in labs. It's not only easy to handle and to buy, it can be programmed which can become to the structure shown in the image above. Here, the biological function is not interesting at all, but still it's the stuff we are made of and it's got a huge amount of interesting properties.