Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules

Date:
August 3, 2012
Source:
Iowa State University
Summary:
Researchers have developed new microscope technology to study single biological molecules with unprecedented accuracy and precision.

Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers, left to right, Sanjeevi Sivasankar, Chi-Fu Yen and Hui Li have invented microscope technology to study single biological molecules.
Credit: Photo by Bob Elbert

By blending optical and atomic force microscope technologies, Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory researchers have found a way to complete 3-D measurements of single biological molecules with unprecedented accuracy and precision.

Existing technologies allow researchers to measure single molecules on the x and y axes of a 2-D plane. The new technology allows researchers to make height measurements (the z axis) down to the nanometer -- just a billionth of a meter -- without custom optics or special surfaces for the samples.

"This is a completely new type of measurement that can be used to determine the z position of molecules," said Sanjeevi Sivasankar, an Iowa State assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.

Details of the technology were recently published by the journal Nano Letters. Co-authors of the study are Sivasankar; Hui Li, an Iowa State post-doctoral research associate in physics and astronomy and an associate of the Ames Laboratory; and Chi-Fu Yen, an Iowa State doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering and a student associate of the Ames Laboratory.

The project was supported by lab startup funds from Iowa State University and a $120,075 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state economic development program.

Sivasankar's research program has two objectives: to learn how biological cells adhere to each other and to develop new tools to study those cells.

That's why the new microscope technology -- called standing wave axial nanometry (SWAN) -- was developed in Sivasankar's lab.

Here's how the technology works: Researchers attach a commercial atomic force microscope to a single molecule fluorescence microscope. The tip of the atomic force microscope is positioned over a focused laser beam, creating a standing wave pattern. A molecule that has been treated to emit light is placed within the standing wave. As the tip of the atomic force microscope moves up and down, the fluorescence emitted by the molecule fluctuates in a way that corresponds to its distance from the surface. That distance can be compared to a marker on the surface and measured.

"We can detect the height of the molecule with nanometer accuracy and precision," Sivasankar said.

The paper reports that measurements of a molecule's height are accurate to less than a nanometer. It also reports that measurements can be taken again and again to a precision of 3.7 nanometers.

Sivasankar's research team used fluorescent nanospheres and single strands of DNA to calibrate, test and prove their new instrument.

Users who could benefit from the technology include medical researchers who need high-resolution data from microscopes. Sivasankar thinks the technology has commercial potential and is confident it will advance his own work in single molecule biophysics.

"We hope to use this technology to move that research forward," he said. "And in doing that, we'll continue to invent new technologies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Iowa State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hui Li, Chi-Fu Yen, Sanjeevi Sivasankar. Fluorescence Axial Localization with Nanometer Accuracy and Precision. Nano Letters, 2012; 12 (7): 3731 DOI: 10.1021/nl301542c

Cite This Page:

Iowa State University. "Researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803110827.htm>.
Iowa State University. (2012, August 3). Researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803110827.htm
Iowa State University. "Researchers invent new tool to study single biological molecules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803110827.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

Rat Infestation at Paris' Tuileries Garden

AFP (July 29, 2014) An infestation of rats is causing concern among tourists at Paris' most famous park -- the Tuileries garden next to the Louvre Museum. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins