Spherical Nucleic Acids: Integrating Nanotechnology Concepts into General Chemistry Curricula

Sarah Hurst Petrosko, Benjamin D. Coleman, Riki J. Drout, Jonathan D. Schultz, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nanoscience and technology research offer exciting avenues to modernize undergraduate-level General Chemistry curricula. In particular, spherical nucleic acid (SNA) nanoconjugates, which behave as "programmable atom equivalents"(PAEs) in the context of colloidal crystals, are one system that one can use to reinforce foundational concepts in chemistry including matter and atoms, the Periodic Table, Lewis dot structures and the octet rule, valency and valence-shell electron-pair repulsion (VSEPR) theory, and Pauling's rules, ultimately leading to enriching discussions centered on materials chemistry and biochemistry with key implications in medicine, optics, catalysis, and other areas. These lessons connect historical and modern concepts in chemistry, relate course content to current professional and popular science topics, inspire critical and creative thinking, and spur some students to continue their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and attain careers in STEM fields. Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, these lessons may expand the pool of young students interested in chemistry by making connections to a broader group of contemporary concepts and technologies that impact their lives and enhance their view of the field. Herein, a way of teaching aspects of General Chemistry in the context of modern nanoscience concepts is introduced to instructors and curricula developers at research institutions, primarily undergraduate institutions, and community colleges worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3090-3099
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 12 2021


  • Analogies/Transfer
  • Colloids
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Science
  • Nanotechnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Chemistry


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