In recent years, there have been significant efforts in accessing information stored at the nano-scale. Single-molecule biophysical techniques and instruments have allowed us to study molecules at their own size scales, giving us an unprecedented amount of information about the way single biological molecules behave in the absence of ensemble averaging. Similarly, nanotechnology has focused on the study of the unique properties materials acquire when their electrons are confined to the nano-scale. Both fields have focused on the study of nano-scale interactions, and have shown much potential to uncover new behaviors at these mysterious size and time scales. Our group’s interests have found their home at the intersection of these two fields in a world where things are measured on the nano-scale.
Our group develops biophysical microscopy tools to probe the biomolecule-nanomaterial interface. We can probe the stability of biopolymers, such as DNA and RNA, on the surfaces of nanomaterials and visualize how the behavior of biomolecules can be affected by interactions with nanomaterials. We can also fine tune the relative distances between fluorophores and nanomaterials to control energy transfer in the development of dual-signal sensors.
Dual visible and near-infrared fluorescence microscopy allows us to play with DNA hybridization on nanomaterials, and visualize the visible fluorescence of the fluorophore-tagged DNA, and near-infrared emission of the nanoparticle, simultaneously.
Check out the media coverage highlighting our work on fluorescent synthetic molecular nano-sensors:
Scientists: Darwin Yang & Travis Del Bonis O’Donnell