While attending Boston University, I was awarded one of the first Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowships for undergraduate research. During this fellowship, I worked with Professor Franco Cerrina, the Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at the time, learning about the photolithographic synthesis of DNA microarrays. Our lab had developed a Maskless Array Synthesizer (MAS), which uses UV light and a digital micromirror device (DMD) to translate simple digital bitmaps into photolithographic masks for DNA synthesis. This method avoids the expenses associated with standard microarray mask production while providing high resolution DNA microarrays, limited primarily by the DMD pixel size. As a proof of concept, we used the MAS to synthesize a DNA microarray pattern of the Boston University logo.
Our ultimate goal was to synthesize custom DNA microarrays and use these probes to capture and organize DNA origami to specific regions of the microarray. Unfortunately, during this fellowship, Professor Cerrina passed away. Although I wish we could have worked together for longer, I’ll always be grateful for his guidance and his introduction to the world of DNA nanotechnology.