"Probing Structure-Function Relationships with Single Molecule Methods"
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
As matter is confined to the nanometer scale, unusual phenomena arise. The ~1 nm regime is where physics meets chemistry–materials approach atomic dimensions and can no longer be described by bulk properties. In order to understand and create devices on these size scales, we must learn to probe the atomic structure of a single molecule system while simultaneously measuring its function in ambient conditions. First, I will describe our conductance and force spectroscopy measurements on single metal-molecule-metal junctions and DNA-protein complexes to motivate the need for multi-probe measurements. We find that the geometry of the metal-molecule interface affects electron transport properties in these junctions and that unwinding kinetics of DNA-protein complexes can elucidate the effects of protein variants on gene regulation. Next, I will discuss our recent measurements on synthetic polymers using a combined optical and force spectroscopy setup and outline plans for future single molecule experiments.