Two strands of DNA will bind most strongly to each other if their base sequences arecomplementary. The specificity of this molecular recognition property makes DNA aversatile material for use in the assembly of complex nanoscructures. The free energyof hybridization, released as two DNA strands come together to from double-strandedDNA, can be used to induce nanostructures to perform mechanical work. Stranddisplacement allows one to operate such structures as cyclic engines. DNA can thusbe used both as a structural material and as a fuel to power the nanoworld.
Bernard Yurke received his Ph.D. from Cornell University for work in low-temperaturephysics. Since 1982 he has been employed as a research physicist at Bell Laboratories.He initially served as the theorist for the Bell Labs squeezed light effort and conductedhis own experimental research on generating squeezed states at microwave frequenciesusing Josephson parametric amplifiers. In addition to quantum optics, he has workedin a variety of fields including liquid crystals, biophysics, and MEMS. Currently, heis building DNA-based molecular motors and exploring nanoscale assembly strategies.In 1997 he became a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. He is a fellow of theOptical Society of America, the American Physical Society, and the AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science. In 2001, for work in quantum optics,he received the Max Born Award from the Optical Society of America.