Abstract: Fluorophores have underwritten scores of scientific and technological advances in the past twenty years by providing for chemically-specific labeling and nanoscale spatial resolution in the aqueous environment
required by molecular biology and biotechnology. Near the turn of this century a new kind of fluorophore was invented based on binding a "metal molecule" to a poly-electrolyte. These metal-molecular fluorophores, or "super-atom" fluorophores, hold great promise for use in bio-imaging and (non-bio) photonics applications. I will discuss what is known about their nature in general, and our recent progress characterizing the composition and structure of a few specific ones, for which silver (Ag) is the metal and DNA is the polyelectrolyte. In addition to furthering fundamental understanding of super-atom fluors, Ag:DNA are exciting (no pun intended ;) as optical elements for applications using DNA nanotechnology. I will close by highlighting our current abilities and challenges in decorating DNA nanostructures with Ag:DNA.
Bio: Deborah Kuchnir Fygenson received a B.Sc, degree (1989) in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989, and M.A. (1991) and Ph.D. (1995) degrees in Physics from Princeton University. She spent one year at Rockefeller University in the Center for Studies in physics and Biology, and then two years at the University of Southern California in the Hedco Molecular Biology labs. She joined UCSB in 1998 as Assistant Professor of Physics. In the field of materials, her research probes the physical interactions between biomolecular assemblies. She has studied non-equilibrium dynamics of protein aggregation and developed experimental techniques for measuring the interactions between cell-sized unilamellar vesicles and the purified protein aggregates they contain, either free floating or embedded in the membrane. Her research in physics focuses on understanding the nature of "conformational change" in a primitive protein (tubulin). This information is valuable for understanding and, eventually, engineering molecular machines.
Host: Sumita Pennathur