Some of the biggest problems in science are found in the smallest of sizes. For chemists like Dr. Faisal Aldaye, who works with nanoparticles that are 1/10,000th the width of a human hair, it takes an even smaller set of tools to devise innovations that could one day deliver drug molecules directly to individual cancer cells.
Aldaye’s research uses DNA to achieve the precise organization of materials on a nanometer scale. Nanoscale positioning is one of the most difficult and important challenges facing researchers in nanoscience; without it, many nanomaterial technologies cannot be effectively utilized. Achieveing precise control at the nanoscale level will bring many new benefits to the world, including more effective sensing devices, longer lasting medical implants, stronger materials and higher energy batteries.
Aldaye and his supervisor, Dr. Hanadi Sleiman, provided a novel solution for how one can organize nanoparticles into specifically designed shapes. In the field of structural DNA nanotechnology, DNA is used as the binding and support material to devise nanostructures. If a researcher wants to achieve a particular shape, they program the sequence of DNA molecules to assemble into a predetermined structure. Aldaye proceeded to generate a library of structurally and functionally dynamic templates for the organization and manipulation of useful nano-objects, such as gold nanoparticles. His materials have a number of applications, including drug delivery, crystallization, and nanoelectronic and nanophotonic circuitry that will produce computer chips that are more powerful, energy efficient and cost effective to produce.