DNA is an amazing molecule that contains the genetic information in all life forms. From a chemical point of view DNA is also completely unique since it is the only type of molecule that can be programmed to assemble in to predesigned structures with high reliability. This enables the formation of structurally well-defined nanostructures, that are formed solely by self-assembly. In this field termed DNA nanotechnology, researchers including Gothelf, are aiming at developing new self-assembling technologies based on DNA, since it offers an unparalleled ability to control structure and function at the molecular level.
With a background in organic chemistry Gothelf’s approach to DNA nanotechnology is based on preparing organic molecules such as artificial DNA building blocks, electronically interesting molecules, e.g. conducting wires, dyes for DNA nanotechnology and development of new chemical methods applied to bionanotechnology. Gothelf and collaborators at CDNA were among the first to develop 3D nanostructures including a DNA box with a controllable lid. Gothelf has also published a number of other breakthroughs in DNA origami, DNA-directed chemistry, biosensors and self-organizing structures on surfaces. Current focus is among other things directed towards the development of molecular scale electronic circuitry based on DNA programmed self-assembly and on the integration of various functional proteins in DNA nanostructures.
Although DNA nanotechnology is a young and mainly academic research field, Gothelf is also aiming at practical applications of the technology and he collaborates on DNA based projects with companies such as Vipergen and Unisense.
The research at CDNA is also highly international and is performed in collaboration with research groups at three American Universities that are associated with CDNA and other researchers in Europe and China. Several students in Gothelfs group have been visiting universities such as Harvard, Arizona State and North Carolina State.