New nanobot can efficiently walk unaided along a single strand of DNA

January 7th, 2009 - 2:14 pm ICT by ANI  

London, January 7 (ANI): University of Oxford scientists have created a two-legged, nano-scale robot that can walk unaided along a single strand of DNA more efficiently than all previously created nanobots.
The researchers claim that unlike earlier attempts, their nanobot does not wander aimlessly back and forth, fall off its track or destroy its track as it walks.
They even claim to have devised an ingenious way of powering the nanobot that allows it to move freely.
The team have revealed that their nanobot comprises two connected feet, each made of a short sequence of DNA bases that attach to a complementary sequence on the DNA track.
According to the researcher, the mini robot has been so designed that as one foot steps down, the other is forced to lift off.
They say that the power for this process is supplied by molecules floating nearby, which react together to release energy as long as a specific catalyst is there.
Another reason to call this a clever design is the fat that the he DNA feet themselves act as the catalyst when they lift off the track, say the researchers.
The Oxford University researchers also say that their nanobot solves some long-standing problems with previously made walking molecules, whose both feet could become detached at the same time only to allow the walker to float away.
However, the team have yet to find out a solution to the tangling of the DNA track, which prevents the walker from moving.
“At the moment, the nanobot has taken a single step but our ambition is to make it move 100 nanometres or more,” New Scientist magazine quoted Andrew Turberfield, a physicist at the University of Oxford who led the research, as saying.
With a view to achieving that purpose, according to him, the team would have to find a way to straighten the tracks.
“We can already stop and start our motor by controlling the amount of fuel we add, but we could add other control signals to make walkers interact with each other, and could easily attach a cargo to the region that links the two legs,” he said.
Niles Pierce from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena believes the mechanism could significantly outperform previous designs. (ANI)

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