Flow-driven motors, such as windmills and water wheels, have powered the progression of human society for thousands of years. And we are not alone in our reliance on these motors: life depends on the work done by millions of sophisticated energy-transducing molecular motors. Prominent examples of such nanomotors include translational molecular motors, like myosin and kinesin, and rotary motors, like adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase and bacterial flagellar motors. Can we design and build such machines at the nanoscale ourselves? Can we use biomolecules and knowledge of biochemistry and biophysics, such as designing DNA and polypeptides from scratch, to achieve this?
This project aims to build nanometre-sized artificial motors using advanced DNA technologies (check out this nice video ) and nanofluidics/nanopores (illustrative video here), integrate these turbines into biocompatible platforms, and use them to drive conformational changes in biomolecules. If you join our team, you will have the opportunity to learn/work with one of, or a combination of, the following things:
- Basic biochemistry on handling and assembling complex DNA origami structures;
- Constructing biomimetic lipid bilayers and reconstituting DNA or protein-based motors in the bilayers;
- Designing and building single-molecule microscopes and tweezers (optical and/or magnetic) to manipulate and test the performance of single nanomotors;
- Fluorescence imaging and single-molecule tracking (to see your nano-windmill spinning in real time!)
Please contact Xin Shi (I:?]D9:o<F=6FG6?]36) for more information.
We also welcome students from outside Belgium to join us for their erasmus projects, thesis projects, or internships. Individual projects can be desinged based on your time and interests.