Joan van der Waals colloquium - Philipp Kukura (University of Oxford): Weighing biomolecules with light



16:15 hrs


De Sitterzaal (032), Leiden


Friday, June 24 at 16:15h in the Sitterzaal (drinks afterwards), will be the last Joan van der Waals colloquium of this season given by Philipp Kukura, Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Dept. of Chemistry, Kavli Insitute for Nanoscience Discovery, University of Oxford. Phillip''s group develops and applies new optical methodologies to study (bio)molecular structure and dynamics.


The colloquium is at 16:15 in the Sitterzaal (Leiden), followed by a borrel (Beer! Snacks! Physics!). If you would like to talk to the guest, please contact the host, Milan, Wolfgang, or Yvonne (

Title: Weighing biomolecules with light
Abstract: Light scattering-based microscopy has made significant progress over the past decade, reaching the single molecule level both for resonant and non-resonant detection. We have been approaching the challenge of ultrasensitive detection through mass photometry (MP). MP enables not only imaging of single biomolecules in solution without labels, it does so with sufficient precision to measure the molecular mass of individual species resulting in high levels of resolution and accuracy. I will introduce MP in the context of interference techniques more broadly, and explain the key technological steps enabling the current levels of detection sensitivity and measurement precision. I will then illustrate the reach of mass photometry by demonstrating its applicability to both nucleic acids and membrane proteins in addition to lipids, sugars and polypeptides, thereby covering the majority of biomolecules. Combination of this broad applicability with the ability to accurately determine the relative amounts of species in complex mixtures without the need for labels or other sample modifications results in a universal method to study interaction stoichiometries, energetics and kinetics. Taken together, these results establish mass photometry as an extremely powerful, solution-based, label-free, yet single molecule method to quantify and thereby study biomolecular structure and interactions.