Develop nanotechnologies to monitor cellular processes with ultra-high resolution

While super-resolution fluorescence microscopes can image cells with nm resolution in the x- and y- direction, these technologies have poor resolution along the third-dimension, the z-axis. To overcome this limitation, my group recently invented a fluorescence technique, called Standing Wave Axial Nanometry (SWAN), which can localize single molecules along the z-axis with nm resolution (Nano Lett. 2012, United States Patent 9,103,784). We are also developing an ultra-stable instrument that can mechanically probe single molecules while simultaneously imaging them in 3D with a resolution of a few nanometers along each spatial dimension (Nano Lett. 2009, United States Patent 8,656,510, United States Patent 8,123,898). We have also used single molecule techniques to fold charged polysaccharides into transient structures (Soft Matter 2011) and developed techniques to control fluid flow for biotechnology applications (Soft Matter 2011). Finally, in collaboration with Prof. Paul Alivisatos at UC Berkeley, we have developed semiconductor nanocrystal based optical force gauges that change color when exposed to mechanical stress (Nano Lett. 2011, Nano Lett. 2009, United States Patent 8,513,624); we plan to use this strain gauge with optical readout to measure forces exerted by migrating cells.