Department of Medical Biotechnology, Università di Milano, Italy
Exploring soft matter with DNA
The sequence-controlled self-assembly of DNA oligomers enables producing thermodynamically relevant numbers of identical nanostructures with well-controlled shape, mutual interactions, and thermal stability. Water dispersions of DNA nanoparticles are thus attractive model systems to investigate thermal, kinetic, and rheological phenomena in condensed matter physics. By using simple duplexes and constructs shaped as nanostars with sticky terminals, we could explore a variety of condensed phases - including liquid crystals, transient networks, critical systems - and gather new insights in phenomena of current interest, such as autocatalysis, viscoelastic phase separation, length-scale independent relaxations, Newtonian to non-Newtonian fluid transition.