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  • DNA origami smiley faces, each 1/1000 the width of a human hair, demonstrate that virtually any shape can be folded from DNA. (atomic force microscopy image; scale bar: 100 nanometers)
    Credit: Paul W.K. Rothemund/Caltech
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
8:00 pm
Beckman Auditorium – Beckman Auditorium

Paul Rothemund - DNA Origami: Folded DNA as a Building Material for Molecular Devices

Watch the recorded lecture

For 3.5 billion years, life has used DNA for information storage, to hold the blueprints of all living things. Over the last 35 years, humans have invented a new use for DNA—as a building material for molecular devices one hundred times smaller than the cell.

This talk will describe how complex DNA structures are designed via computer, synthesized using simple "kitchen chemistry," and studied with atomic force microscopes a thousand times more powerful than standard light microscopes. We will explore how researchers around the world are applying DNA origami, from cancer-killing nanorobots, to exquisite light sources that will power quantum computers.

As an undergraduate at Caltech from 1990 to 1994, Paul W.K. Rothemund couldn't decide whether to study biology, chemistry or computer science. Thus, he combined these interests and worked to build computers using DNA. After receiving a Ph.D. from USC in 2001, Rothemund returned to Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow, where he now remains as a research professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems. His primary interest is to transform biology into a discipline more like computer science or engineering, using techniques from programming and design. A complementary interest is to bring principles from biology, such as self-assembly, into the manufacture of technology, such as computers.

This is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.

Reserved section tickets are available to members of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium and the Caltech Associates.

Presented by: Caltech Committee on Institute Programs

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