Engineers Use Biomolecules To Develop Machines With Realistic Characters

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Engineers from Cornell University after understanding the exclusive nature of DNA have designed simple machines made of biomolecules with properties equivalent to living things.

They developed DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical (DASH) materials, which have the ability to self-assemble, metabolize, and organize itself.

Dan Luo—biological and environmental engineering professor—said that the team is introducing a unique, lifelike material model driven by its very own simulated metabolism. The material that the team is generating is not alive but would appear to be much more realistic. This innovative research is published in the journal Science Robotics.

Every living organism has an in-built system to administer changes occurring inside the body. In general, new cells are being replaced by old and worn cells. To maintain the functioning and form, metabolism is required to synthesize and degrade the biological components inside the body.

By this way, DNA molecules are synthesized and automatically arranged into patterns in an organized manner, resulting in an entity formation that can bring about a dynamic, self-directed process of synthesis and decay.

Using the molecular-based material, engineers created a biological material that has the ability to autonomously emerge from its nano-structured chunks into polymers and further into mesoscale structures. The base of the developed structure was a short nucleotide sequence of 55 base pairs, which was amplified into hundreds of thousands of times to develop an extended DNA sequence of few millimeters. Then, the engineers injected the reaction solution in a micro-fluidic device that pursued the reaction and generated the essential structural components for biosynthesis.

With the flow of the wash over the material, the DNA began to synthesize its strands in one direction, while the other end went on degrading at an optimal rate. Thus, DNA-based material started moving in a direction against the flow similar to the locomotive way of slime molds.

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