Micro-scale biological systems have incredible non-equilibrium structural and mechanical capabilities; these systems allow cells and organelles to carry out their biological functions. We study self-assembled systems that mimic aspects of this behavior. Our primary methodology involves designing self-assembling DNA systems, and interfacing them with DNA-binding enzymes. 

Cartoon of magnetic tweezer assay of polymer elasticity

The elastic response of a polymer is uniquely sensitive to its structure and interactions with the solution in which it is bathed. We study the elasticity of single polymers, with an eye towards understanding the solution physics that governs biopolymer activity in vivo. Particularly, we have pioneered the study of polymer elasticity at very low (sub-picoNewton) forces, discovering novel regimes of polymer behavior that have given new insight into the long-standing problem of charged polymer behavior.

Code we have released, in support of our instrument development activities, can be found here.