Solidifying framework nucleic acids with silica

Xinxin Jing, Fei Zhang, Muchen Pan, Xinpei Dai, Jiang Li, Lihua Wang, Xiaoguo Liu, Hao Yan, Chunhai Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Soft matter can serve as a template to guide the growth of inorganic components with well-controlled structural features. However, the limited design space of conventional organic and biomolecular templates restricts the complexity and accuracy of templated growth. In past decades, the blossoming of structural DNA nanotechnology has provided us with a large reservoir of delicate-framework nucleic acids with design precision down to a single base. Here, we describe a DNA origami silicification (DOS) approach for generating complex silica composite nanomaterials. By utilizing modified silica sol–gel chemistry, pre-hydrolyzed silica precursor clusters can be uniformly coated onto the surface of DNA frameworks; thus, user-defined DNA–silica hybrid materials with ~3-nm precision can be achieved. More importantly, this method is applicable to various 1D, 2D and 3D DNA frameworks that range from 10 to >1,000 nm. Compared to pure DNA scaffolds, a tenfold increase in the Young’s modulus (E modulus) of these composites was observed, owing to their soft inner core and solid silica shell. We further demonstrate the use of solidified DNA frameworks to create 3D metal plasmonic devices. This protocol provides a platform for synthesizing inorganic materials with unprecedented complexity and tailored structural properties. The whole protocol takes ~10 d to complete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2416-2436
Number of pages21
JournalNature protocols
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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