The innovation engine for new materials

Florence Lucey

Florence Lucey lab photo




University of California Merced


Ian Morgan

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Omar Saleh

Faculty Sponsor's Department(s): 


Project Title: 

Single Molecule Elasticity Experiments of Submicron Molecules at Biologically Relevant Forces Utilizing DNA Origami

Project Description: 

The structure and physical characteristics of soft matter materials arise from the nature of their polymeric components. Characteristics such as intermolecular interactions, folding, and forces that maintain the secondary and tertiary structures of polymers may be measured using a single molecule force spectroscopy technique called magnetic tweezing. This technique enables monitoring of biophysical properties at biologically relevant sub piconewton forces by measuring the extension of polymers tethered between a glass surface and magnetic bead. However, this technique is limited to large molecules (> 1μm); due to nonspecific interactions between the polymer and the surface. To overcome this limitation, we have constructed a rigid DNA origami spacer molecule which permits precise single molecule force extension experiments of submicron polymers. The origami elevates the polymer of interest off the surface of the experimental apparatus, ultimately avoiding nonspecific interactions. Here, we validate the use of this spacer molecule by applying the spacer molecule a series of well-characterized polymers, e.g. RNA hairpin.