Electrical conduction through DNA molecules
HANS-WERNER FINK AND CHRISTIAN SCHÖNENBERGER
The question of whether DNA is able to transport electrons has attracted much interest, particularly as this ability may play a role as a repair mechanism after radiation damage to the DNA helix. Experiments addressing DNA conductivity have involved a large number of DNA strands doped with intercalated donor and acceptor molecules, and the conductivity has been assessed from electron transfer rates as a function of the distance between the donor and acceptor sites,. But the experimental results remain contradictory, as do theoretical predictions. Here we report direct measurements of electrical current as a function of the potential applied across a few DNA molecules associated into single ropes at least 600 nm long, which indicate efficient conduction through the ropes. We find that the resistivity values derived from these measurements are comparable to those of conducting polymers, and indicate that DNA transports electrical current as efficiently as a good semiconductor. This property, and the fact that DNA molecules of specific composition ranging in length from just a few nucleotides to chains several tens of micrometres long can be routinely prepared, makes DNA ideally suited for the construction of mesoscopic electronic devices.