This work examines the deposition of metallic and semiconductor elements onto self-assembled DNA templates for the fabrication of nanodevices. Biological molecules like DNA can self-assemble into a variety of complex 2-D and 3-D architectures without the need for expensive patterning tools. In addition, self-assembled DNA templates can be designed to controllably place functional nanomaterials with molecular precision. These characteristics make DNA an attractive template for fabricating electronic circuits from biological molecules. However, electrically conductive structures are required for electronic applications. While metallized DNA nanostructures have been demonstrated, the ability to make thin, continuous wires that are electrically conductive still represents a formidable challenge. DNA-templated wires have generally been granular in appearance with a resistivity approximately two to three orders of magnitude higher than that of the bulk material. An improved method for the metallization of DNA origami is examined in this work that addresses these challenges of size, morphology and conductivity of the metallized structure. Specifically, we demonstrated a metallization process that uses gold nanorod seeds followed by anisotropic electroless (autocatalytic) plating to provide improved morphology and greater control of the final metallized width of conducting metal lines. Importantly, growth during electroless deposition occurs preferentially in the length direction at a rate that is approximately four times the growth rate in the width direction, which enables fabrication of narrow, continuous wires. The electrical properties of 49 nanowires with widths ranging from 13 nm to 29 nm were characterized, and resistivity values as low as 8.9 x 10-7 Ω-m were measured, which represent some of the smallest nanowires and the lowest resistivity values reported in the literature. The metallization procedure developed on smaller templates was also successfully applied to metallize bigger DNA templates of tens of micrometers in length. In addition, a polymer-assisted annealing process was discovered to possibly improve the resistivity of DNA metal nanowires. Following metallization of bigger DNA origami structures, controlled placement of gold nanorods on a DNA breadboard (~100 x 100 nm2) to make rectangular, square and T-shaped metallic structures was also demonstrated. For site-specific placement of nanorods to a DNA template, we modified the surface of the gold nanorods with single-stranded DNA. The rods were then attached to DNA templates via complementary base-pairing between the DNA on the nanorods and the attachment strands engineered into the DNA "breadboard" template. Gaps between the nanorods were then filled controllably via anisotropic plating to make 10 nm diameter continuous metallic structures. Finally, controlled placement of metal (gold) - semiconductor (tellurium) materials on a single DNA origami template was demonstrated as another important step toward the fabrication of DNA-based electronic components. The combination of molecularly directed deposition and anisotropic metallization presented in this work represents important progress towards the creation of nanoelectronic devices from self-assembled biological templates.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





biological molecules, DNA, DNA origami, anisotropic metallization, nanowire, site-specific, nanorods, gold, tellurium, nanoelectronics