Lego robot used to make DNA structures for tiny machines more quickly

Lego robot used to make DNA structures for tiny machines more quickly

The Lego robotic

Sentosa et al., 2023, PLoS ONE

A robotic made from Lego can rapidly carry out an essential step for creating machines made from DNA.

“This began as a closing venture in an undergraduate lab course,” says Rizal Hariadi at Arizona State College, who tasked his class with constructing instruments utilizing “frugal science”.

The robotic that one group of scholars constructed has proved significantly helpful and resembles a single arm topped with a holder for cylindrical tubes. It performs a process to combine the liquid contents of the tubes, first tilting the tubes from vertical to horizontal, then quickly spinning them round. This creates a single liquid with a density that uniformly decreases from the underside to the highest.

The robotic’s elements, together with gears, connecting blocks and two motors, all come from Lego kits. The one exception is the tube holder that the researchers needed to 3D print. The robotic’s design is a smaller and sooner model of extra conventional “gradient mixers”.

After being blended by the Lego robotic, the liquid can be utilized for purifying tiny buildings made from DNA molecules that researchers like Hariadi wish to use as tiny machines. These machines might each perform duties within cells and shed new mild on how naturally occurring molecular machines, like proteins, work.

Many standard strategies for creating density gradients require hard-to-use and costly machines. The Lego robotic created the mandatory density gradient in just one minute, which speeds up the purification general.

Katherine Dunn on the College of Edinburgh within the UK says the robotic might make the purification course of each cheaper and faster.

The purification process consists of gadgets aside from the Lego robotic, so the robotic itself is probably not of use to different laboratories that don’t have already got this remaining gear, says Hariadi . Nevertheless, as a result of it price about $350 to make it out of Lego – about $100 cheaper than store-bought gadgets – this can be a handy and accessible method to prototype gadgets that may enhance present lab routines, he says.


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