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Electric Field Assisted Self-Assembly of DNA Structures:
A Potential Nanofabrication Technology

Michael J. Heller*, a, Carl Edmana, and Sadik Esenerb

aNanogen, San Diego, CA
bUCSD, San Diego, CA

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
Sixth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


Presently, Nanogen's active microelectronic DNA arrays are being used for numerous applications in genomic research and DNA diagnostics. These active microelectronic devices combine the best attributes of both DNA array and "lab on a chip" technologies. Their ability to create almost any electric field transport geometry on the array surface, allows charged reagent and analyte molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, etc.), nanostructures, and micronscale structures (cells, etc.) to be moved to or from any of the microscopic test sites on the device surface. When specific DNA hybridizations reactions are carried out on the array, the device is actually using electric fields to direct the self-assembly of DNA molecular or nanostructures at the specified microlocation(s) on the chip surface. Microelectronic arrays with 50 µm and 80 µm microlocations have been used to demonstrate the organization of complex fluorescent DNA molecular structures and mechanisms within selected microlocations on the array device. Useful fluorescent energy transfer properties have been incorporated into these organized fluorescent DNA hybrid structures. Thus, in principle these active devices are serving as "motherboards" for the nanofabrication of DNA derivatized component molecules into more complex structures. The DNA molecule, with it's intrinsic programmable and self-assembly properties, can be derivatized with a variety of molecular electronic or photonic donor or acceptor groups. DNA molecules can also be attached to larger nanostructures, including metallic nanoparticles and organic nanospheres (probably also to nanotubes); and to microstructures, including metal and silicon dioxide surfaces. In essence, these active microelectronic motherboard arrays and DNA modified components may allow one to carry out the controlled self-assembly of complex two and three dimensional molecular electronic structures, circuits, and devices, within defined perimeters of larger silicon or semiconductor structures. This technology has the inherent hierarchical logic of allowing one to control the organization and communication of structures and components from the molecular scale ---> to the nanoscale ---> to the micronscale ---> to the macroscopic scale.

Michael J. Heller received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Colorado State University in 1973. He was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University from 1973 to 1976. Dr. Heller was supervisor of the DNA Technology Group at Amoco Corporation from 1976 to 1984, and then the Director of Molecular Biology at Molecular Biosystems, Inc., from 1984 to 1987. He then went on to Integrated DNA Technologies, where he served as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1987 to 1989. Presently, he is the Chief Technical Officer at Nanogen, Inc., located in San Diego, California. Dr. Heller has extensive industrial experience in biotechnology, with particular expertise in the areas of DNA probe diagnostics, DNA synthesis, and fluorescent based detection technologies. He has been the founder of several new high technology companies. Nanogen Inc., the most recently formed, is directed at the development of novel DNA chip technology. He has numerous publications and patents in the biotechnology and medical diagnostics areas.

*Corresponding Address:
Michael J. Heller, Ph.D.
Chief Technical Officer
10398 Pacific Center Ct., San Diego, CA 92121
Tel. 619 546-7700
Fax. 619 546-7717


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