DNA and DNA nanoassemblies such as DNA origamis have large potential in biosensing, drug delivery, nanoelectronic circuits, and biological computing requiring suitable methods for migration and precise positioning. Insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) provides an efficient and matrix-free approach for manipulation of micro-and nanometer-sized objects. In order to exploit iDEP for naturally formed DNA and DNA nanoassemblies, a detailed understanding of the underlying polarization and dielectrophoretic migration is essential. The shape and the counterion distribution are considered two essential factors in the polarization mechanism. Here, the dielectrophoretic behavior of 6-helix bundle (6HxB) and triangle DNA origamis with identical sequences but substantial topological differences was explored. The polarizability models were discussed for the two species according to their structural difference. The experimental observations reveal distinct iDEP trapping behavior in low frequency AC electric fields in addition to numerical simulations showing a considerable contribution of the electrophoretic transport of the DNA origami species in the DEP trapping regions. Furthermore, the polarizabilities of the two species were determined by measuring the migration times through a potential landscape exhibiting dielectrophoretic barriers. The resulting migration times correlate to the depth of the dielectrophoretic potential barrier and the escape characteristics of the DNA origamis according to an adapted Kramer’s rate model. The orientations of both species in the escape process were studied. Finally, to study the counterion distribution around the DNA molecules, both λ-DNA and 6HxB DNA were used in a phosphate buffer containing magnesium, revealing distinctive negative dielectrophoretic trapping behavior as opposed to positive trapping in a sodium/potassium phosphate buffer system.
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- Insulator-based dielectrophoretic manipulation of DNA in a microfluidic device