QN Colloquium: Cees Dekker (Delft/BN): 'Nanotechnology for biophysics, from single molecules towards synthetic cells'



16:00 hrs


Lecture Room E, Lorentzweg 1, Delft


Nanotechnology offers many opportunities to contribute to biophysics and biology. I will present examples where single-molecule tools and nanofabricated structures are used to examine the biophysics from single molecules to cells. I will illustrate the great potential of nanobiology with some recent examples from our lab:


1. Single-molecule tools to probe DNA and DNA-protein

The past two decades have yielded many scanning probe and tweezer technique to probe single biomolecules. I will show some illustrative examples, focusing on the direct visualization of the dynamics of individual supercoils in DNA. Such coiled-up DNA structures are found to move along DNA by diffusion or, unexpectedly, by a fast hopping process.


2. DNA translocation through solid-state nanopores

Solid-state nanopores have proven to be a surprisingly versatile probe for single-molecule analysis of DNA, and much work is carried towards DNA sequencing. I will describe some of our recent findings – specifically DNA knots – as well as our efforts to expand the capabilities of solid-state nanopores even further, in the direction of single-protein detection, graphene nanopores, plasmonic nanopores, and DNA origami nanopores.


3. Exploring biophysics of bacteria with nanofabricated shapes

With nanofabricated structures, we shape bacteria into forms that deviate from their natural phenotype. Specifically, I will show our ability to shape live E. coli bacteria into novel shapes such as rectangles, squares, triangles and circles. We study pattern formation in these geometries. I will show spatiotemporal oscillations of Min proteins – associated with cell division – in such artificial geometries of live E. coli cells.


Finally, I will briefly sketch some of our ideas to explore the building of synthetic cells, specifically our first steps to establish synthetic cell division.