The main focus of our research is time resolved nanocharacterization of biological systems. This includes measurement of nanobiological processes using High-speed Atomic Force Microscopy (HS-AFM), as well as time lapse AFM microscopy over several days. Our special interest is in measuring fundamental processes on bacterial cells, such as cell growth, division and the impact of. To understand the relationship between nanoscale structure and microbiological function we augment AFM information with advanced optical microscopy such as confocal microscopy, super resolution microscopy as well as with time-lapse fluorescent microscopy. Many of our experiments require the development of custom measurement instruments, specialty cantilevers and MEMS devices. Their development involves multidisciplinary aspects of nanotechnology, microfabrication, mechanical/electrical engineering, biophysics, molecular biology, and microbiology. Recent instrument developments are:
- High-speed AFM heads with photo-thermal cantilever excitation for use with ultra small cantilevers with resonance frequencies up to 20 MHz
- Combined HS-AFM/dSTORM microscope
- HV-compatible AFM for mechanical testing of nanowires inside an SEM
- Self-sensing nanowire cantilevers
With these instruments we try to answer biologically relevant questions such as:
- Is the growth velocity of cells dependent on their birth size?
- What determines the site of bacterial cell division?
- What are the nanomechanical properties of tissues or protein constructs?