Motor proteins are nanometer scale engines essential for life, and their non-equilibrium dynamics are the essence of their function. They are studied in order to understanding the physical principles of biological force generation in transport processes.
Many DNA enzymes perform highly complex mechanical tasks in replication, transcription, or packing of DNA, the detailed dynamics of which are not yet understood. Single molecule experiments will be used to investigate the dynamics of such enzymes.
Physics of Viruses
Viral particles are highly regular, self-assembled, nanometer sized containers that combine complex passive and active functions. Using atomic force microscopy, optical tweezers and fluorescence techniques we are studying the physical properties of viral capsids.
Single biomolecules in cells and multicellular organisms
To understand the function and dynamics of biomolecules it is essential to also study them in the full complexity of their natural environment, the living cell. Using advanced, ultrasensitive fluorescence methods we study motor and (transmembrane) proteins in living nematodes (C. elegans), bacteria (E. coli) and other cell types.
New experimental techniques are developed, focusing on high-resolution microscopy methods, single-molecule manipulation techniques (optical tweezers, atomic force microscopy), and single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy.