Flexibility defines structure in crystals of amphiphilic DNA nanostars.
DNA nanostructures with programmable shape and interactions can be used as building blocks for the self-assembly of crystalline materials with prescribed nanoscale features, holding a vast technological potential. Structural rigidity and bond directionality have been recognised as key design features for DNA motifs to sustain long-range order in 3D, but the practical challenges associated with prescribing building-block geometry with sufficient accuracy have limited the variety of available designs. We have recently introduced a novel platform for the one-pot preparation of crystalline DNA frameworks supported by a combination of Watson-Crick base pairing and hydrophobic forces (Brady et al 2017 Nano Lett. 17 3276-81). Here we use small angle x-ray scattering and coarse-grained molecular simulations to demonstrate that, as opposed to available all-DNA approaches, amphiphilic motifs do not rely on structural rigidity to support long-range order. Instead, the flexibility of amphiphilic DNA building-blocks is a crucial feature for successful crystallisation.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015978/1)