Light-Responsive Colloidal Crystals Engineered with DNA

Jinghan Zhu, Haixin Lin, Youngeun Kim, Muwen Yang, Kacper Skakuj, Jingshan S. Du, Byeongdu Lee, George C. Schatz, Richard P. Van Duyne, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


A novel method for synthesizing and photopatterning colloidal crystals via light-responsive DNA is developed. These crystals are composed of 10–30 nm gold nanoparticles interconnected with azobenzene-modified DNA strands. The photoisomerization of the azobenzene molecules leads to reversible assembly and disassembly of the base-centered cubic (bcc) and face-centered cubic (fcc) crystalline nanoparticle lattices. In addition, UV light is used as a trigger to selectively remove nanoparticles on centimeter-scale thin films of colloidal crystals, allowing them to be photopatterned into preconceived shapes. The design of the azobenzene-modified linking DNA is critical and involves complementary strands, with azobenzene moieties deliberately staggered between the bases that define the complementary code. This results in a tunable wavelength-dependent melting temperature (Tm) window (4.5–15 °C) and one suitable for affecting the desired transformations. In addition to the isomeric state of the azobenzene groups, the size of the particles can be used to modulate the Tm window over which these structures are light-responsive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1906600
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • DNA–nanoparticle superlattices
  • azobenzene
  • colloidal crystals
  • light-responsive materials
  • optical patterning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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