The revolutionary advances in DNA sequencing and technologies, pave the way to brand new fields of applications.

In particular, non-biological applications focus on both optical and electronic properties of DNA nanoparticles to produce sensing devices or components for digital storage or processing. It’s every day more clear that semiconductors technologies will hit their limits at some point and memories and nanodevices can’t get smaller anymore. A technological revolution would be a reliable method to encode and store information in DNA molecules. Digital data can be directly stored in a DNA sequence at high data density. This method depends on the synthesis and sequencing of DNA molecules that need complex devices and high costs for large amounts of data. As an alternative, storage of information in three-dimensional DNA nanostructures is an attractive strategy recently proposed. The use of high-density DNA hairpins as digital bits along a DNA carrier strand enables the creation of a library of a large number of different DNA molecules to store information. A powerful alternative method is to use DNA wire meshes as templates for assembling metallic nanopatterns to prepare optoelectronic chips with a fundamental leap in performance. DNA-based methods allow nm precision in nanoparticles assembly, which could lead to improved performance at a given chip size. By using metallic nanoparticles precisely arranged along a DNA strand we can produce hybrid plasmonic structures where the interaction between an electromagnetic field and free electrons in the orbitals of metal atoms or molecules, can be exploited for optical effects or to obtain tunable systems where the position of the nanoparticles can be externally manipulated. The work proposed herein will provide: (i) a new technology that utilizes the DNA technology to arrange in 3D plasmonic nanoparticles with nm precision;  (ii) a novel approach of plasmonic nanowires/nanostructures fabrications based on the hybrid DNA (origami) / metallic nanoparticle systems; (iii) a next-generation model to encode and store information along the DNA strand; (iv) an optoelectronic system to modulate/tune the arrangement of the metallic nanoparticles along the DNA molecule in order to dynamically control the contents of information; and (v) a single molecule sensitivity device that can perform the decoding of the stored information in one functional unit. The results of the project will provide a foundation for the use of novel technologies in a wide range of applications, such as next-generation biomolecular fabrications, hybrid solid-state/biological systems, DNA data storage, and bio-optoelectronics.

DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS is a research project funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation actions (RIA) scheme under grant agreement no. 964995.