Incredibly small, subatomic things operate by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Those rules are known as quantum physics. Nanoscale-sized bits of semiconductor are known as quantum dots, and they are used to make sure the electrons they contain are influenced by quantum effects. They're very useful for things like making smaller electronic components and better medical imaging, but they're also difficult to produce. That's why scientists are researching how to use earthworms to produce quantum dots.
Researchers from the University of Toronto have used quantum dots to develop artificial molecules that they then used to create of a new type of nanoantena that can control and direct the energy absorbed from light. Quantum dots are semiconductive particles that can absorb and emit light efficiently at chosen wavelengths. What the researchers did was develop a successful way to build higher-order structures, or complexes, out of the different types of quantum dots. Led by professors Shana Kelley and Ted Sargent, the research team brought together expertise about DNA and about semiconductors to formulate a generalized strategy about how to bind the different types of nanoparticles to each other. Published in Nature Nanotechnology the research shows that you can create a more effective nanoantenna by increasing the amount of light absorbed, and then funneling the light energy into a single site within artificial molecules made of quantum dots. But the thing that makes this research possible isn't just an understanding of semiconductors and nanomaterials. According to the researchers the high degree of specificity of DNA was key to making this research successful.