Home > Press > Bionanotechnology: revolution at single molecule level
Progress in bionanotechnology is essential for our understanding of cells and for the development of new therapeutics, which nowadays increasingly function at the molecular level. This was one of the statements made by Prof. Nynke Dekker on Wednesday 8 April during her inaugural address at TU Delft, the Netherlands.
Bionanotechnology: revolution at single molecule level
Delft, The Netherlands | Posted on April 9th, 2009
The biological world contains a great many components and is, therefore, not straightforward to understand. However, research is accelerating as a result of the confluence of various disciplines. Collaboration between biologists, physicists and engineers has been particularly productive recently. These days, physical technologies enable us not only to perceive a single biological molecule (such as DNA) in a cell, but also to film, as it were, the interaction of this molecule with proteins.
As Prof. Nynke Dekker puts it: "With the development of biology in the direction of the molecular scale, cell biology is taking on an increasingly ‘engineering' character: the biologist's approach is rapidly changing into that of the engineer."
Bionanotechnologist Dekker explains: "Physicists and engineers are highly skilled in making, controlling and measuring small objects. You only have to look at the developments in quantum physics at the nanoscale, in which TU Delft has played a leading role."
Bionanotechnology is located on the interface between biology and nanotechnology and is, scientifically speaking, still largely unexplored. It is expected to become one of the key scientific areas of the 21st century. With the tools provided by nanotechnology, biological molecules can be accurately imaged, studied and controlled. This will lead to new insights in the functioning of the living cell.
Prof. Nynke Dekker (1971) is one of the prominent researchers in this field. She studied physics at Yale, USA, and obtained her doctorate at Harvard University, USA. She is also a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and received the prestigious European Young Investigators (EURYI) Award in 2007. According to the European Science Foundation, ESF, this puts Prof. Dekker in the top twenty excellent young researchers who are seen as potential world leaders in their fields.
Pulling and turning
She received the EURYI Award for her research into molecular motors and their interaction with individual DNA molecules. "Such experiments, in which you can control the state of DNA by pulling and turning it, have generated a lot of interest. If you can manipulate DNA to this extent, and watch it in real time, the next step is easy: why not add a protein that changes something about the DNA and see whether this is discernible?"
"A good deal of research focuses on using such single-molecule techniques, which the field has developed to such an extent that molecular motor movement along the elementary building blocks of DNA can be viewed. We hope to improve our understanding of the action of proteins at the molecular level in this way. This is essential for our understanding of the cell and for the future development of new therapeutics, which nowadays have an increasingly specific targets at the molecular level." TU Delft recognises the enormous significance of the bionanosciences and, for this reason, is setting up a new department for this field. In the next decade, the university will be investing 10 million euros in this new department, which will form a part of the university's successful Kavli Institute of Nanoscience.
TU Delft cooperates with many other educational and research institutions, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The high quality of our research and teaching is renowned. TU Delft has numerous contacts with governments, trade associations, consultancies, industry and small and medium-sized companies.
For more information, please click here
Prof. Nynke Dekker, faculty of Applied Sciences, tel. +31 (0)15 278 3219,
Frank Nuijens, Science information officer, tel. +31 (0)15 278 4259,
Information TU Delft
T: 0031 (0)15 278 9111
T: 0031 (0)15 278 5408
Michel van Baal
T: 015 2785454
Copyright © TUDelft
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
News and information
Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014
Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014
Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014
Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014
Russia’s Nano-enabled Products Market to Witness Massive Growth February 8th, 2011
Adept Technology Announces Orders for Over $600K from Chinese Partner January 18th, 2011
Nanostart-held ItN Nanovation Receives Major Follow-on Order in Saudi Arabia November 29th, 2010
Homegrown Companies Developing Batteries for Clean Energy Storage November 2nd, 2010
Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014
FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014
UCLA engineers first to detect and measure individual DNA molecules using smartphone microscope December 15th, 2014
Biomimetic dew harvesters: Understanding how a desert beetle harvests water from dew could improve drinking water collection in dew condensers December 8th, 2014
Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014
Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014
High photosensitivity 2D-few-layered molybdenum diselenide phototransistors December 8th, 2014
Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014