Nano-hinges are the next step in the development of molecular machines

Finnish and Israeli scientists have found a way to move the hinges at the nanoscale. This marks the next step in the development of what is called molecular machines. This will ultimately make it possible to develop new therapeutic approaches, for example in medicine.

Until now, it was not possible to control this type of nanomachines. The team of researchers Aalto University in Finland and Weizmann Institute in Israel have succeeded in creating a structure that opens and closes like a hinge on command. “It’s a bit like origami, this Japanese art of folding”, according to the researchers.

Switching with light

In order to be able to build such a hinge, scientists opted for the use of DNA. DNA not only carries genetic codes, but can also take many different forms: Nanohinges are contained in a solution that becomes more acidic when light shines on it. The increasing acidity of the solution causes the formation of chemical bonds at the ends of the hinges, thus closing the hinges ”, explains Finnish scientist Joonas Ryssy. “When the light is turned off, the acidity of the solution is reversed, causing the bonds between the ends to break and the hinges to reopen.” Only one light source is required for this switching.

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The results were published in the professional journal Angewandte Chemie. The research follows earlier studies by the same group on the manipulation of macromolecules. Using light to control the hinge is a great option as it can be done remotely.

Anton Kuzyk, professor at Aalto University: “If we don’t want all the hinges to close, we reduce the amount of light. This level of control is an interesting feature of our system that sets it apart from the rest.

Read more IO articles on nanotechnology here.

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