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Investigating single molecule transport at micro- and nanometre scales

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Life is compartmentalized and crucially depends on the controlled transport of molecules through cell membranes. We investigate the physical interaction governing the transport on the single molecule and single particle level, with sub nanometre spatial and sub-pico Newton force resolution. It is now possible to insert and hold a single DNA molecule in a hole a few nanometres in diameter. This molecular tug-of-war sheds light on the nanoscopic fluid flows governing the force on the DNA molecule. Our unique optical setups allow for the measurement of fluid jets with diameter down to a few tens of nanometres. Scaling up our systems to micron size particles allows us to assess, visualize and quantify directly the statistical physics governing membrane transport with diffusing particles.

This talk is part of the Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group series.

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