Self-assembly is a pervasive natural phenomenon that gives rise to complex structures and functions. It describes processes in which a disordered system of components form organized structures as a consequence of specific, local interactions among the components themselves, without any external direction. Biological self-assembled systems, evolved over billions of years, are more intricate, more energy efficient and more functional than anything researchers have currently achieved at the nanoscale. A challenge for human designed physical self-assembled systems is to catch up with mother nature. In this talk, we argue, through examples of our contributions in the field, that DNA is an apt material to meet this challenge. I will present: (1) 3D self-assembled nanostructures, (2) Illustrations of the simplicity and power of toehold-mediated strand displacement interactions and (3) Algorithmic constructs in the tile assembly model.
Nikhil Gopalkrishnan is a PhD candidate and James B. Duke Fellow at the Duke Computer Science department working with Prof. John Reif. His research interests are in self-assembly based models of computation, computing with DNA molecules and experimental DNA self-assembly. Nikhil has published papers in ICALP, SICOMP, Algorithmica, Journal of the Royal Society Interface and DNA Computing & Molecular Programming. He has also co-authored chapters in three books reviewing research in his field.