Detailed knowledge of the dynamics of proteins is necessary in order to understand the related biological processes that occur on the molecular level. To date, this information has been obtained by means of labeling proteins with fluorescent substances, but unfortunately this changes the proteins under investigation and thus influences the biological processes that are to be observed.
The new method developed in Mainz makes it possible to observe individual protein molecules under a microscope with the help of a gold nanoparticle. (diagram: Gold nanoantenna with protein molecules shown in purple)
Abb.: Institut für Physikalische Chemie / JGU
"Our method allows live tracking of individual proteins without having to label them first," explains Professor Dr. Carsten Sönnichsen of the Institute of Physical Chemistry at JGU. "We are now gaining entirely new insights into molecular processes and can see, for example, how things are constantly in motion even on the very smallest scale."
The method developed by the group of Mainz chemists led by Carsten Sönnichsen is based on the use of gold nanoparticles. These serve as glistening nanoantennas that, when they detect individual unlabeled proteins, slightly change their frequency or, in other words, their color. These tiny color changes can be observed using the technique developed in Mainz. "This is an enormous leap forward technologically: We have managed to achieve a very high time resolution for the observation of individual molecules," says Sönnichsen. It is thus now possible to precisely observe the dynamics of a protein molecule down to the millisecond.
The opportunity to detect individual protein molecules also opens up completely new horizons. It has thus become practicable to track the fluctuation of protein population densities and observe protein adsorption processes in real time, among other things. "We can see how molecules move, how they dock at particular locations, and how they fold – this has given us a window into the molecular world," explains Dr. Irene Ament, a member of Sönnichsen's group. This new technology may prove to be useful not only in chemistry but also in medicine and biology.
The work is an important element in research into non-equilibrium phenomena at the molecular level and thus provides a solid foundation for the planned Cluster of Excellence Molecularly Controlled Non-Equilibrium (MCNE), which has been selected to enter the final round of the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments to promote top-level research at German universities. Among other sources, the project received financial support in the form of an ERC Starting Grant for the project "Single metal nanoparticles as molecular sensors" (SINGLESENS).Publication:
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy