DNA is a polymer! But, in a systems or materials context, the polymer properties of DNA have so far been mostly overlooked regarding their potential impact as a design criterion. We want to change this. 

Overall, DNA offers unprecedented opportunities with regard to precision design of interactions through sequence control, for the design of nanoscale objects, for controlling molecular or fueled switches, or even computation, but, much can be done by going beyond classical supramolecular duplex hybridization.

We have been taking a fresh look at DNA nanoscience and borrow concepts from polymer and colloid science to create new types of equilibrium and non-equilibrium self-assembling system. We connect those to a materials level and research for instance on phase-seperation processes, protocells, and mechanical materials with unusual mechanical adaptiveness. To this end we develop also new synthesis and living polymerization methods. Our work in the DNA field feeds strongly into the various other research topics.

This research has been continuously supported by two ERC Grants.

DNA Polymer Science: From New Synthesis to Systems and Materials

5 Selected References:

1. Creusen, G., Akintayo, C. O., Schuhmann, K., Walther, A. “Scalable One-Pot-Liquid-Phase Oligonucleotide Synthesis for Model Network Hydrogels“ J. Am. Chem. Soc. 142, 16610 (2020).

2. Deng, J.; Bezold, D.; Jessen, H.; Walther, A. “Multiple Light Control Mechanisms in ATP‐fueled Non‐Equilibrium DNA Systems” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 59, 12084 (2020).

3. Loescher, S.; Walther, A. “Supracolloidal Self‐Assembly of Divalent Janus 3D DNA Origami via Programmable Multivalent Host/Guest Interactions” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 59, 5515 (2020). 

4. Merindol, R.; Delechiave, G.; Heinen, L.; Catalani, L. H.; Walther, A. “Modular Design of Programmable Mechanofluorescent DNA Hydrogels” Nature Commun. 10, 529 (2019).

5.  Merindol, R.; Loescher, S.; Samanta, A.; Walther, A. “Pathway-Controlled Formation of Mesostructured all-DNA Microgels and their Superstructures” Nat. Nanotechnol., 13, 730 (2018). (Cover Article, highlighted in Mirkin et al. Nat. Nanotech. 13, 624)



1. Invited Minireview: Loescher, S.; Groeer, S.; Walther, A. “3D DNA Origami Nanoparticles: From Basic Design Principles to Emerging Applications in Soft Matter and (Bio‐) Nanosciences” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 57, 10436 (2018) German Version: Angew. Chem. 130, 10594 (2018).  

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