2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Visualization of DX-Tile Structures with High-Resolution Atomic Force Microscopy

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Paul Davis, Dr. William Knowlton, and Dr. Jeunghoon Lee


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) associates known as DNA double-crossover-tiles or DX-tiles are synthesized nanostructures developed through DNA nanotechnology. These structures, distinct from their role as carriers of genetic information, hold immense potential for various applications such as medical diagnostics, drug delivery, and light-harvesting.

This research involved the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM), a scanning probe technique with spatial resolution on the order of nanometers, to gather statistical data of DX-tile structural motifs. Some theoretical motifs include two-dimensional lattices, and/or higher order oligomers. AFM was chosen to characterize the DX-tiles as it can boast an impressive resolution. Such fine spatial resolution is crucial given the diminutive size of the DX-tiles (~4 nm x 15 nm). Likewise, AFM’s ability to image DNA in its native fluid environment prevents the distortion of the DNA's structure associated with drying techniques. The preparation methods of imaging DX tiles and the resulting motif statistics measured with AFM were conducted and are summarized in this work. This research underscores the importance of high-resolution imaging techniques in understanding nanoscale materials and facilitates further exploration of DX-tiles and other DNA nanotechnology.

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