Nanobiophysics

Principal Researcher: Dr. Robert Ros

Graduate Assistant: Olaf Schulz


Please visit the Center for Biological Physics here at ASU.
For educational outreach of the Center for Biological Physics please clickhere

Math & Science Teacher Fellows 2009: Joanne Cox, Trevor Browne HS, Merville Nicholls, Central HS; Trudi Wimberley, Casa Verde HS

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Trudi, Joanne, Merve, Olaf, Robert



What is nanobiophysics?


"...special emphasis on structural biology, physics of molecular recognition an conformational dynamics of single (bio)molecules using probe methods, force spectroscopy technologies and nanophotonics. My goal is to develop and improve naobiophysical techniques (in particular the combination of cutting-edge force and optical technologies) and to apply them to fundamental biological processes, structures and nanomaterials such as gene regulation, trancription, translation, molecular machines and charge transfer in bacterial nanowires." --Robert Ros

This biophysics lab is using an atomic force microscope and confocal microscope to study biological molecules, either alone or on/within cells. In addition, there is also research to how the microscopes can be used together to further probe the characteristics of molecules.

The following information in this section will provide a basic understanding of nanoscience and nanotechnology:


  • What is nanoscience?
    We are basically "looking" at objects smaller than a hair down to an atom. The following links will give some insight into the technology and concepts of nanoscience:
    intro to nanoscience

Click to see a scale of how nanometers measures up.

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Nice toys Olaf!


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AFM & Confocal microscopes together

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AFM scans on Left, Confocal images of fluoroescence on right

What are we doing in the nanobiophysics lab?


We are preparing slides of DNA to make images of its surface using the AFM (atomic force microscope).
Preparing the DNA involves:
1. prepping the DNA with a buffer
2. cleaving mica for the DNA to stick to & afixing the mica to the slide
3. making a special tape frame for the DNA
4. pipetting the DNA solution onto the mica within the tape frame
5. washing & drying it to discard the buffer


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Wetlab Workbench
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Olaf Instructs
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Pipetting DNA Solution

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Washing Mica & DNA
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Blowdrying Mica & DNA
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Affixing Mica & DNA to Slide

Next, the slide is take to the "dark room" to be placed on the AFM.

This procedure is what we have used to Set Up an AFM

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Wafer of Cantilever Tips


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The Tip is on the Cantilever

Above are cantiliver tips on a manufactured silcon wafer and the stage for the cantiliver with a tip attached.

In addition to the AFM we are also using a confocal microscope which detects & images fluoroescence. A fluoroescent substance such as YOYO-1 is attached to the DNA. The YOYO-1/DNA complex is then affixed to the mica on the slides for placing onto the confocal objective.

Our Results of both AFM and confocal sample images are here. The ultimate goal is to align the two imaging techniques of the same single-molecule sample.

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Endorphine-inducing Results