This Review chronicles over two decades of research into creating a genetic code for crystal engineering. Rather than directing biological processes, this code uses synthetic forms of DNA to programme the assembly of nanoparticles and microparticles into 1D, 2D and 3D crystalline architectures, in which almost every aspect of the resultant structures can be systematically controlled. Within this conceptual framework, the structural and functional advances are described in an effort to define the present level of sophistication and to predict future directions of the platform. These advances include exotic structures with programmable lattice symmetries and well-defined crystal habits, responsive materials that leverage the intrinsic properties of nucleic acids to manipulate structures on demand, nanoparticle superlattices grown epitaxially from surfaces and colloidal crystals that offer insights into light–matter interactions. Looking forward, we challenge the community to leverage the extraordinary structural control afforded by crystal engineering with DNA to synthesize classes of functional materials that push beyond what has been possible with naturally occurring crystalline materials or those made by more conventional strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Energy (miscellaneous)
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry