Scientists Build The World's Smallest Thermometer Out Of DNA

The thermometer is 20,000x smaller than a human hair.

27/04/2016 15:24

Researchers have created a programmable DNA thermometer that is 20,000 times smaller than a human hair.

The scientists at the University of Montreal took the knowledge that DNA will essentially unfold when heated and then applied that in a more practical sense.

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"In recent years, biochemists also discovered that biomolecules such as proteins or RNA (a molecule similar to DNA) are employed as nanothermometers in living organisms and report temperature variation by folding or unfolding," said Prof. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle.

What the team did then was create a range of DNA structures which would then unfold at different temperatures with the end result being that you now have the world's smallest thermometer.

While this is impressive in itself, a DNA thermometer actually has huge potential in the field of nanotechnology.

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"In the near future, we envision that these DNA-based nanothermometers may be implement in electronic-based devices in order to monitor local temperature variation at the nanoscale," concludes Prof. Vallée-Bélisle.

Another example is in better understanding why our own body functions the way it does. We all know that the body is maintained at around 37 degrees but researchers are keen to know if there are mass variations in this temperature down at the nanoscale.

"There are still many unanswered questions in biology,"

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