A team from the California Institute of Technology in the US used DNA to build the origami tiles that were then used to build the world’s smallest tic-tac-toe board game.

Known for messing around, humans have been trying to play around with one of the most intriguing aspects of nature – the DNA. Recently, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology developed DNA origami to create tiles that can be used to self-assemble into larger structures that have predesigned patterns. Using these organic microscopic DNA tiles, the scientists further created the world’s smallest tic-tac-toe board game ever.

The dynamic and pre-programmable organic tiles can be mould itself into much larger pre-designed patterns – as large as nanostructures, which isn’t exactly “large”, but that is what makes the world’s smallest version of the Italian polymath Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic painting Mona Lisa. The limitation of joining programmed DNA tiles is that once created, they are not easy to be changed; but since the tic-tac-toe was build using more dynamic DNAs, it allowed the scientists to reshape already-built DNA structures.

About playing the world’s tiniest tic-tac-toe, every move involves molecular self-reconfiguration for swapping in and out hundreds of DNA strands at once. However, a sequence can also pair up with a partially matching sequence. An X tile could be designed to only slide into the lower left-hand corner of the board, for example. Players could put an X or an O in any blank spot they wanted by using tiles designed to go where they wanted.