We combine tools from nanofabrication, biotechnology and mechanical engineering to study the dynamic behavior of biomolecular machinery in important biological processes. Specifically, we focus on mechanically dynamic biological nanopores and DNA nanostructures and develop a new set of tools for precise characterization and activation in biomimetic membranes.
Our focus is on the nanomechanical transduction mechanisms in force-sensitive protein channels and reconfigurable DNA origami nanostructures. We study the occurrence and dynamics of conformational changes in response to various types of actuation, including mechanical and chemical stimuli. Our aim is to develop new on-chip platforms and detection schemes based on optical and electrical feedback to tackle the mechanistic aspects of the transduction process at the nanoscale.
Currently we work on the following projects:
On-chip actuation of force-sensitive protein nanopores. We develop modular NEMS devices that apply controlled and tunable mechanical stimuli directly to biomembranes, while concurrently measuring the ionic transport properties through individual proteins pores. In our devices we integrate acoustic tweezers within a nanopore setup: this allows us to manipulate and perturb micro- and nano- objects via acoustic waves, while measuring the conductance across the membrane.
Dynamic DNA nanostructures. We design and integrate compliant DNA structures with tunable stiffness in artificial membranes to study how their controlled deformation can be used in applications such as molecular sorting.