Our goal is to build ultra-miniaturized molecular devices and machines that can be combined into autonomously functioning systems ("robots") capable of executing user-defined tasks. At the moment we are primarily concerned with constructing hardware. Inspired by the structural sophistication and the rich functionalities of natural molecular motors and of viruses, we investigate how to adapt the physical principles underlying the formation of these natural objects for our purposes. Important principles are self-assembly, polymer folding and the fact that structures can be encoded in polymer building block sequences. Molecular self-assembly with DNA is an attractive route toward implementing these principles to create synthetic molecular machinery. DNA origami in particular enables building nanodevices that can already be employed for making new discoveries in biomolecular physics and protein science.
In the long term we hope to contribute to the creation of molecular devices and autonomous systems that have practical benefits for everyday life. We pursue, among others, potential uses in medicine for advanced, more specific therapies.
Opportunity for candidates with BSc: Explore how the interplay of biological building blocks can generate life and how to replicate life-like systems. Combine new technologies by learning-by-doing and creatively use biological substances to gain new insights and invent applications in the life sciences. The direct-track PhD program Matter to Life is part of the Max Planck School Matter to Life.
English: An 18 min summary of our vision and current activities. See also here: Molecular machines of the future. Thanks TEDx TUM team for hosting.
Deutsch: Eine 11-minütige Zusammenfassung unserer Vision für die molekulare Robotik anlässlich der Einweihung der Münchner Schule für Robotik und Maschinelle Intelligenz.
Recent publications from this laboratory:
K. Wagenbauer, C. Sigl, and H. Dietz: "Gigadalton-scale shape-programmable DNA assemblies", NATURE 2017
F. Praetorius, B. Kick, K. Behler, M. Honemann, D. Weuster-Botz, and H. Dietz: "Biotechnological mass production of DNA origami", NATURE 2017
F. Praetorius and H. Dietz: "Self-assembly of genetically encoded DNA-protein hybrid nanoscale shapes", SCIENCE 2017
F. Kilchherr, C. Wachauf, B. Pelz, M. Rief, M. Zacharias, H. Dietz: "Single-molecule dissection of stacking forces in DNA", SCIENCE 2016
T. Gerling, K. Wagenbauer, A. Neuner, H. Dietz: "Dynamic DNA devices and assemblies formed by shape-complementary, non-base pairing 3D components", SCIENCE 2015
We are thankful for financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft via the Excellence Clusters CIPSM and NIM, through the SFB863, and via the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize program. Further support comes from the European Research Council.