Optical voltage sensing using DNA origami

Nano Lett.,  DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b05354
Nano Lett., online article


We explore the potential of DNA nanotechnology for developing novel optical voltage sensing nano-devices that convert a local change of electric potential into optical signals. As a proof-of-concept of the sensing mechanism, we assembled voltage responsive DNA origami structures labelled with a single pair of FRET dyes. The DNA structures were reversibly immobilised on a nanocapillary tip and underwent controlled structural changes upon application of an electric field. The applied field was monitored through a change in FRET efficiency. By exchanging the position of a single dye, we could tune the voltage sensitivity of our DNA origami structure, demonstrating the flexibility and versatility of our approach. The experimental studies were complemented by coarse-grained simulations that characterised voltage-dependent elastic deformation of the DNA nanostructures and the associated change in the distance between the FRET pair. Our work opens a novel pathway for determining the mechanical properties of DNA origami structures, and highlights potential applications of dynamic DNA nanostructures as voltage sensors.

TU München
Helmholtz München
MPI of Neurobiology
MPI of Biochemistry