Using nanotechnology and exploiting the properties of DNA, researchers have found success in developing world’s tiniest thermometer that is 20,000x smaller than a human hair. The programmable DNA thermometer will help scientists in developing a better understanding of measuring temperature at the nanosacle.
Researchers knew that DNA molecules unfold when exposed to heat. The discovery was made 60 years ago, but it is for the first time that any team of scientists has utilised the unfolding of DNA as a temperature measuring device. The thermometer is sensitive to the amount of unfolding and folding of DNA and shows variation in the temperature accordingly.
“In recent years, biochemists also discovered that biomolecules such as proteins or RNA (a molecule similar to DNA) are employed as nanothermometres in living organisms and report temperature variation by folding or unfolding,” said senior author Alexis Vallee-Belisle from the University of Montreal in Canada.
What’s striking about the thermometer is that it is 20,000 times smaller than a human hair which is commendable. It is a feat achieved for the first time which contains only few molecules. The breakthrough has the potential to revolutionise the nanotechnology.
Another advantage of using DNA in the thermometers is that chemistry of DNA is relatively simpler and it is easier to program a DNA structure. Study authors are optimistic that the invention will open the new gates in the nanotechnology and will help researchers in understanding molecular biology.
Study authors explained that we know that our body temperature is maintained at 37 degree Celsius but they don’t know yet whether there is a huge variation at the molecular level or not. The study appeared in the journal Nano Letters can help in exploring the happenings at the molecular levels.