THE SMALLEST FONT? DNA LETTERS ON A NANOMETER SCALE

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nature.com

fastcodesign

MONDAY 06.25.2012 , POSTED BY 

Have you ever found yourself needing to pack a lot of text into a small space? Are you a designer with a project requiring loads of fine print? Fear not, typography on a nanometer sale is here. Scientists at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts have recently created a series of glyphs made entirely out of microscopic fragments of DNA, woven together like building blocks. By leaving out specific blocks they’ve been able to create letters, numbers and even symbols like smileys and an eagles head. Here we bring you brilliant science journalist Ed Yong’s post, created entirely out of the miniscule font: “DNA Sans anyone?”

So just how small is this font? At 100 nanometers tall for each letter, that’s about 1000th the diameter of a human hair or the same length as a wavelength of ultraviolet light. Is this the smallest font yet?

What can this breakthrough technology be used for in the real world? Peng Yin, leader of the study at Harvard says that “any technological applications are highly speculative,” but according to an article in Nature, he thinks he could use the building technique to create structures which might be useful for designing nano-scale devices for delivering drugs. This would have the advantage of being less likely to be broken down by DNA-cutting enzymes or trigger an immune reaction. That may be well off in the future, but for now we can all be happy with the possibility of very, very tiny books.

 

 

 

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