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Hemmig, Elisa A.; Fitzgerald, Clare; Maffeo, Christopher; Hecker, Lisa; Ochmann, Sarah E.; Aksimentiev, Aleksei; Tinnefeld, Philip and Keyser, Ulrich F. (2018): Optical Voltage Sensing Using DNA Origami. In: Nano Letters, Vol. 18, No. 3: pp. 1962-1971

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We explore the potential of DNA nanotechnology for developing novel optical voltage sensing nanodevices that convert a local change of electric potential into optical signals. As a proof-of-concept of the sensing mechanism, we assembled voltage responsive DNA origami structures labeled with a single pair of FRET dyes. The DNA structures were reversibly immobilized on a nanocapillary tip and underwent controlled structural changes upon application of an electric field. The applied field was monitored through a change in FRET efficiency. By exchanging the position of a single dye, we could tune the voltage sensitivity of our DNA origami structure, demonstrating the flexibility and versatility of our approach. The experimental studies were complemented by coarse-grained simulations that characterized voltage-dependent elastic deformation of the DNA nanostructures and the associated change in the distance between the FRET pair. Our work opens a novel pathway for determining the mechanical properties of DNA origami structures and highlights potential applications of dynamic DNA nanostructures as voltage sensors.

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