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New experimental concepts in the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale

English title New experimental concepts in the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale
Applicant Krishnan Madhavi
Number 138961
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut für Physikalische Chemie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.06.2012 - 31.05.2016
Approved amount 1'590'112.00
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All Disciplines (8)

Discipline
Physical Chemistry
Chemical Engineering
Other disciplines of Physics
Condensed Matter Physics
Material Sciences
Microelectronics. Optoelectronics
Biophysics
Biochemistry

Keywords (4)

nanofluidics; single molecule trap; macromolecule sorting; confined soft matter

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Any bit of matter in a liquid is pummelled by forces from the surrounding bath of liquid molecules. So a minute particle in a fluid is always wandering off and after a while finds itself at a random location far from where it started. Fascinating things could be done if one could get microscopic particles, a thousand times smaller than the width of a strand of hair, to stay at the same location for long spells of time. Scientists have developed several different ways to “trap” objects in liquids all of which depend on external forces being applied on the object to hold it in place. Most of these methods rely on the mass of the object, because of which they fail to work on interesting objects such as proteins and several other kinds of small building blocks. This work presents a conceptual shift in the trapping of objects in liquids. We have shown that appropriately tailoring the space around an object in solution can serve as a way to trap it without applying any external forces. The technique depends on the electrical charge carried by the object and can work just as effectively on relatively large objects as it does on small ones. Unlike existing methods, this new concept permits traps to be multiplexed with no increase in complexity, thus enabling us to trap and position several thousand nano-objects at defined locations in close proximity to each other.  Not only will this technique enable us to study the properties of isolated single objects and their interactions with each other, but it should also enable researchers in fields ranging from biology to materials science to assemble novel materials at the nanoscale. This project will go beyond the purely electrical interaction and exploit other passive inherent forces  between an object and its environment in order to direct and control the behavior of matter at the nanoscale.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Information storage and retrieval in single levitating colloid
Myers Christopher, Celebrano Michele, Krishnan Madhavi (2015), Information storage and retrieval in single levitating colloid, in Nature Nanotechnology, 10, 886-892.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Nic Spencer, ETH Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Roland Netz, Freie Universtität Berlin Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Ben Schuler, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Gordon Conference on Single Molecule Approaches to Biology Talk given at a conference High-precision electrometry in a ‟field-free single molecule trap 02.07.2016 Hong Kong, Hongkong Krishnan Madhavi;
Biological and Soft Matter Physics Seminar Individual talk Single-molecule Electrometry 13.06.2016 Leiden, Netherlands Krishnan Madhavi;
Annual Meeting of the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry Talk given at a conference Measuring the properties of macromolecules in a ‟field-free single molecule trap 06.05.2016 Rostock, Germany Krishnan Madhavi;
18th Swiss Soft Days Talk given at a conference Charge spectrometry on single macromolecules in solutiom 30.03.2016 ETH Zurich, Switzerland Ruggeri Francesca;
SCNAT Young Faculty Meeting, University of Bern, Switzerland. June 3, 2015 Talk given at a conference How to trap your nano-object: pushing the boundaries on the spatial control of matter at the nanometer scale 03.06.2015 Bern, Switzerland Krishnan Madhavi;
16th Swiss Soft Days Talk given at a conference Information storage and retrieval in a single levitating colloid 04.05.2015 Villigen, Switzerland Myers Christopher James;
Laboratory of Physical Chemistry Colloquium (ETH Zurich) Individual talk From single molecule measurements to soft matter switches: the electrostatic fluidic trap 02.12.2014 Zurich, Switzerland Krishnan Madhavi;
13th Swiss Soft Days Poster Measuring the properties of nanometric objects in an electrostatic fluidic trap 14.02.2014 Zurich, Switzerland Ruggeri Francesca;
Inaugural Lecture UZH (Antrittsvorlesung) Individual talk How to trap your nano-object: pushing the boundaries on spatial control of matter at the nanometer scale 02.12.2013 Zurich, Switzerland Krishnan Madhavi;
Biosoft Seminar, Dept. of Chemistry, Tel Aviv University, Israel Individual talk How to trap your nano-object: pushing the boundaries on spatial control of matter at the nanometer scale 13.11.2013 Tel Aviv, Israel Krishnan Madhavi;
Gordon Research Conference on Soft Condensed Matter Physics Poster Trapping and manipulating matter in nanoscale free energy landscapes 18.08.2013 New London, NH, United States of America Krishnan Madhavi;
Swiss Society of Surfaces and Interfaces 2012 Talk given at a conference A new experimental approach to the trapping and manipulation of matter at the nanoscale 25.01.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland, Switzerland Krishnan Madhavi;
NanoBioTech 2012 Talk given at a conference A nanoscale Millikan-type experiment to measure size and charge of single objects in fluids 12.11.2012 Montreux, Switzerland, Switzerland Krishnan Madhavi;
Gordon Research Conference on Single Molecule Approaches to Biology Poster Measuring the properties of single nanoscale objects in solution using an electrostatic fluidic trap 15.07.2012 Mount Snow Resort, VT, USA, United States of America Krishnan Madhavi;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
13th Swiss Soft Days 14.04.2014 Zurich, Switzerland
8th Annual Dorothy Crowfoot Symposium 10.10.2013 Zurich, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Ideen, die die Welt verändern – Nobelpreisträger der Universität Zürich Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 10.06.2015 Switzerland, Switzerland Myers Christopher James; Ruggeri Francesca; Krishnan Madhavi;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year

Awards

Title Year
Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 2016
Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein Prize 2016 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
166244 New experimental concepts in the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale 01.06.2016 SNSF Professorships
157734 SPOT: Single Protein On Target 01.04.2015 R'EQUIP

Abstract

Trapping a single atom or molecule offers us the unique opportunity to study matter by measuring the characteristics of its individual constituents rather than the average properties of an ensemble. In fact the motivation to suspend “the constituents of matter free” in order to study them goes back at least two hundred years. From the development of atom and ion traps, recognized with a Nobel Prize in 1989, to the revolution in biophysics launched by the ability to manipulate colloidal objects in strongly focused light beams, the last few decades have seen unprecedented progress in methodologies to trap and control - and consequently understand and manipulate - the individual functional units of matter.While all existing methodologies to trap and manipulate matter in the gas phase or in aqueous solution require the application of external fields to the object of interest, I recently introduced a novel concept in the manipulation of nanometer-sized objects in fluids that requires no externally applied fields. The method is based on confining an aqueous suspension carrying the object of interest in a fluid-carrying channel of submicrometer depth and using the geometry of the walls to manipulate the repulsive electrostatic interactions between the object and the surrounding walls in order to achieve potential minimum at a specific spatial location. Since the trap relies on the passive tailoring of the intrinsic interaction between an object and its surroundings, it requires no application of external fields and as such is a paradigm shift in the field. Further, the technique offers significant advantages beyond the state-of-the art, holding great promise for the trapping of single proteins in solution. This is an area where success using current approaches has remained elusive and realization of this goal is arguably the next major research milestone since the development of the optical trap in the 1970s.Having demonstrated proof-of-concept experimental results and theoretical calculations on the electrostatic fluidic trap, a major goal of my lab in the next 4-6 years will be to address the problem of trapping of single biological macromolecules and to demonstrate charge-based sorting and sieving of matter in two dimensional free energy landscapes. Further, on a distinct but related note, we will work on experimentally investigating poorly understood geometry-driven attractive interactions between charged objects and confining like-charged walls, a problem closely related to the as-yet unresolved question on like-charge attraction in confined colloidal objects. A longer term goal involves going beyond electrostatics in exploring the possibility of manipulating matter via other intrinsic interactions such as the Casimir-Lifshitz force.To this end, I will build a research laboratory at the forefront of experimental investigations of soft condensed matter interactions at submicrometer length scales. Our efforts will be directed at understanding the interactions of, and manipulating individual soft objects in a confined environment in a fluid, and my laboratory will rely primarily on the use of nanofabricated experimental systems and optical imaging techniques to address questions of interest. The ability to control the dynamics of ensembles of a diverse range of nanometric objects, from metal and dielectric colloidal particles to macromolecules like DNA and biological nano-objects such as lipid vesicles, viruses and proteins will have fundamental impact in areas ranging from chip-based biomolecular analyses and single molecule biophysics to photonics.
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