New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions

March 11, 2011
DNA Robots

A DNA robot moves among different branches of a molecular track while carrying cargo (Illustration: ACS)

University of Oxford scientists have developed a programmable “molecular robot” — a sub-microscopic molecular machine made of synthetic DNA that moves between track locations separated by 6 nanometers.

The robot, a short strand of DNA, follows instructions programmed into a set of fuel molecules determining its destination, for example, to turn left or right at a junction in the track.

The scientists would like to program the DNA robots to autonomously walk in different directions to move in a programmable pattern, a key to harnessing their potential as cargo-carrying molecular machines.

This represents a major step toward futuristic nanomachines and nanofactories.

Their work appears in ACS’s Nano Letters.

Adapted from materials provided by ACS