Algorithmic Self-Assembly of DNA

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and
The Institute for Surface and Interface Science (ISIS) present:

Erik Winfree, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Computation, Neural Systems

Location: 2201 Natural Sciences II
Event Host: Professor Regina Ragan


Nucleic acids have proven to be remarkably versatile as an engineering material for chemical tasks including the storage of information, catalyzing reactions creating and breaking bonds, mechanical manipulation using molecular motors, and constructing supramolecular structures.  This talk will focus particularly on molecular self-assembly, giving examples of engineered DNA "tiles" that crystallize into two-dimensional sheets, one-dimensional tubes and ribbons, and information-guided patterns such as a Sierpinski triangle and a binary counter.  A theme is how cooperative binding can be used to control nucleation and direct selective tile attachment. Such "algorithmic" self-assembly may provide a bottom-up fabrication method for creating complex, well-defined supramolecular structures that can be used as scaffolds or templates for applications such as arranging molecular electronic components into active circuits.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Winfree studies molecular computation and DNA based computers.  Inspired by biological mechanisms such as molecular folding, self-assembly, and genetic regulatory circuits, his approach involves both theoretical models of molecular computation and experimental investigation of artificially designed systems of interacting DNA molecules. He has co-authored numerous journal and conference publications.

Dr. Winfree received his B.S. in mathematics and computer science from the University of Chicago in 1991. He received his Ph.D. in Computation & Neural Systems from Caltech in 1998. His thesis was titled, Algorithmic Self-Assembly of DNA.  After some time at Princeton and MIT, he is now back at Caltech as an assistant professor of Computer Science and Computation & Neural Systems.  In 2000, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, like his father before him.