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Dissertation Defense: Design, Control, and Implementation of DNA Origami Mechanisms

Alexander Marras, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering
Thursday, July 13, 2017, 1:00 pm
E525 Scott Lab
201 W. 19th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210


  • Dr. Carlos Castro, Chair
  • Dr. Hai-Jun Su
  • Dr. Vishnu Sundaresan
  • Dr. L. James Lee


DNA origami enables the precise fabrication of nanoscale geometries. This work demonstrates an approach to engineer complex and reversible motion of nanoscale DNA origami mechanisms. Following a traditional macroscopic machine design approach, we developed flexible DNA origami rotational and linear joints that integrate stiff double-stranded DNA components and flexible single-stranded DNA components to constrain motion along a single degree of freedom and demonstrate the ability to tune flexibility and range of motion. Linear motion was achieved by folding a tube concentrically around a track through a novel approach of programmed sequential folding so the track folds first, and then the tube is constrained to assemble around the track. Multiple joints were then integrated into various higher order mechanisms including a crank–slider that couples rotational and linear motion. We have also demonstrated multiple actuation methods to achieve reversible conformational changes via short DNA connections distributed throughout the mechanisms. Ongoing work includes the hierarchical assembly of multiple two-state mechanisms for propagated motion across micron-scale distances. These results provide a framework for controllable 2D and 3D DNA-based mechanisms and materials that could be used for measuring biomolecules, biosensing, transport, and triggered delivery.