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DNA-Binding Strands Used To Create Molecular Zipper

June 30, 2004

Virginia Tech students and faculty members are creating releasable coatings and thin films using the same chemistry that nature uses to bind the double helix of DNA.

“We are coating a patterned surface with accepting molecules then applying donating molecules – that is, using molecular recognition — to create a molecular zipper,” explains Tim Long of Blacksburg, professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

Applications would be strong, multilayered structures that might be used for body armor, as well as for releasable coatings and films.

The researchers are using heterocycles – the same groups that bind strands of DNA. “They can be selected to recognize specific complementary groups based on the attributes desired,” Prof. Long says.

The paper, “Multiple hydrogen bonding on surfaces (PMSE 135),” was presented recently at the 227th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, CA, by Casey L. Elkins, a graduate student from Coopersville, MI. Her co-authors are doctoral student Kalpana Viswanathan of Madras, India, Adhesive and Sealant Science Professor Thomas C. Ward of Blacksburg, VA, and Prof. Long.

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