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Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo
Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

Credit: (DIMES Institute, Delft Institute of Technology, the Netherlands)

What In the World Is It?

What you see here is not the result of a ladder getting squished by an earthquake fault – though that image is rather provocative. No, what you see here is an illustration of a short DNA molecule attached to two metal electrodes. The electrodes are shown as the two gray cliffs on either side of a chasm. In reality, the electrodes would be separated by just 8 nanometers (billionths of a meter). The double-stranded DNA (the colorful rope across the canyon) would have a length of just 10.4 nanometers (billionths of a meter).

You see, researchers at the DIMES Institute of the Delft Institute of Technology in the Netherlands have found evidence that DNA can conduct electrical charge. By applying enough high voltage to the double strand, they greatly influenced the flow of electrons in the DNA strand and thus conducted electricity. Such work is leading to a new field called "DNA electronics," which may lead to intriguing new designs for biosensors and other devices.


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