Single molecule studies are increasingly important in biophysics. The Perkins group focuses on developing high precision single-molecule techniques and applying them to answer a variety of biological questions, such as: how motor proteins transduce chemical energy into physical motion? And, how does the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins affect their functions? We developed a single-molecule optical-trapping assay with Ångström-scale stability and resolution in all three dimensions (3D). We are applying these techniques to study DNA-based molecular motors, the folding/unfolding kinetics of RNA structures, and DNA overstretching. We also developed focused-ion beam modified cantilevers for dramatically improved performance of atomic force microscopy and are currently pursuing studies of diverse biological systems (globular proteins, protein-ligand bonds, membrane proteins, structured RNA).
biophysics, single molecule, membrane protein, DNA, RNA, molecule motors,atomic force microscopy, optical trapping, picoscale force standards, nanotechnology, nanoscience