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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
DNA passing through a nanopore

The group will provide a unique capability of single-molecule studies, which will directly probe the basic processes on the single-chain protein/DNA/RNA level. The techniques involve optical micromanipulation and Atomic Force Microscopy, and the use of nanopores to detect and analyse individual molecules either by voltage-driven transport or diffusion.

Questions to be addressed include the characteristics of biological macromolecules on the single molecule level in aqueous solutions. Specifically we are studying macromolecular dynamics and characteristics in confinement , and their interaction with specific environments. Single nanopores, of both biological and nanotechnological origin, allow acquisition of thousands of single molecule events in a few hours and thus are interesting candidates for drug screening or sequencing. Techniques for supported nano lipid bilayers are also developed, providing new approaches for sensory applications and in vitro studies of biological nanopores like the protein import and export through cellular membranes.

In addition, we are developing new tools for a deeper understanding of transport through lipid membranes. Ideally, all techniques will be label-free and combine fluorescence and Raman-based detection principles integrated into microfluidic channels for single cell analysis. The overall goal is to clarify the influence of the lipid composition on signalling between bacteria or bacteria and their host organisms.