The nanoscale engineering of nucleic acids has led to exciting molecular technologies for high-end biological imaging. The predictable base pairing, high programmability, and superior new chemical and biological methods used to access nucleic acids with diverse lengths and in high purity, coupled with computational tools for their design, have allowed the creation of a stunning diversity of nucleic acid–based nanodevices. Given their biological origin, such synthetic devices have a tremendous capacity to interface with the biological world, and this capacity lies at the heart of several nucleic acid–based technologies that are finding applications in biological systems. We discuss these diverse applications and emphasize the advantage, in terms of physicochemical properties, that the nucleic acid scaffold brings to these contexts. As our ability to engineer this versatile scaffold increases, its applications in structural, cellular, and organismal biology are clearly poised to massively expand.


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