DNA art reproduces photos in high resolution and 16 million colors
Scientists have developed a way to “paint” with DNA, creating 16 million colors to accurately reproduce digital images with 24-bit color depth. The resulting images are incredible, and represent not just a new art form but potential advances for storing data on DNA.
DNA can encode an enormous amount of information, and not just through its arrangement of bases (the letters GCAT), but through the structure of its double strand. When strands pair up and form what’s called a duplex, they follow specific rules to ensure the stability of the duplex, which makes them programmable. However, scientists have also found that they can expand the possibilities by programming in a degree of instability.
In a new study, scientists at the University of Vienna took advantage of this technique to create DNA artworks on a tiny canvas. They used small DNA strands linked to fluorescent molecules that emit either red, green or blue light, and used these fragments to form duplexes with a much longer DNA strand attached to the surface.
Different colors are made by mixing the red, green and blue molecules in different ratios. Meanwhile, the specific shade of each color can be tuned by adjusting the stability of each duplex – lower stability makes a darker color. The team tuned this to make 256 shades for each color channel, opening up 16 million unique combinations, which is the full RGB color spectrum used in inks and displays.
The researchers then got to work painting with this DNA palette. They used a technique called maskless array synthesis (MAS), which allows them to synthesize hundreds of thousands of DNA sequences at once and determine which color to place on each “pixel” of the canvas. In doing so, they were able to reproduce digital images onto a canvas about the size of a fingernail, with 24-bit color depth at a resolution of 1024 x 768. The team says it should be possible to scale the process up to Full HD and even 4K eventually.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Source: University of Vienna