A soft-lithography technique that harnesses deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) as a self-reproducing template is being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Supramolecular Nano Materials Group. Researchers in the SuNMag project have demonstrated a self-assembling method, dubbed nanocontact printing, that transfers subnanoscale patterns from a master wafer to any number of production wafers. In doing so, the method sidesteps the problems of both photolithography and nanoimprinting.
"What we have developed is a method that is able to reproduce DNA patterns from one surface to another," said materials scientist Francesco Stellacci, who heads the project. Stellacci, who describes the technique as using "DNA strands as Gutenberg movable type," performed the work with EE professor Henry Smith, EE graduate student Tim Savas and materials science graduate student Amy Yu. Yu described Stellacci's new method as marshaling "nature's most efficient printing technique: the DNA/RNA [ribonucleic acid] information transfer."