1,100 Words

Twinkle, Twinkle

These tiny points of light might look like stars twinkling in the sky. But in reality they’re different molecules of light-up DNA, blinking on and off as they bind and unbind under a microscope. Though they’re all the same color, Duke researchers have developed a technique that makes it possible to tell as many as 50 or more types apart by their unique twinkling patterns. When attached to cells or other objects, the DNA devices could let researchers peer inside the body and track dozens of different molecules at once, more cheaply than traditional methods and without fading over time.