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Single Molecule Workstation (SMW)
Start date: Dec 1, 2008, End date: Nov 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This proposal aims at the development and application of an innovative single molecule workstation, enabling advances in the research happening throughout Europe and the rest of the world around the investigation of living cells. By combining three most advanced microscopic techniques into a single workstation, we aim at reaching a new quality level in the study of the molecular biology of living cells. The proposed single molecule workstation will be composed of three key elements: (i) inverted light microscope (ILM); (ii) atomic force microscope (AFM); and (iii) optical tweezers (OT). A true virtue of this initiative is that by combining several ultra-sensitive microscopy techniques into a single workstation completely new horizons for molecular biology related studies are opened. The aim of this combined ILM-AFM-OT setup is to look at the surface topography using high-resolution AFM, to study the distribution of cellular molecules using high sensitive fluorescence and contrast enhanced light microscopy (ILM), and to measure molecular interaction forces with ultra-sensitive optical tweezers. As a complementary method, photo-thermal nano-spectroscopy (PTNS) will be used to investigate spectroscopic properties of cellular material with a spatial resolution down to sub-100 nm which will enable chemical analysis of sub-cellular components. The combined setup will provide a qualitatively new level in microscopic studies, giving unprecedented versatility in the detection and monitoring of cellular events with highest spatial and temporal resolution. The proposed single workstation will be used for the study of the correlation between structure and function of living cells with applications in immunology and cancer research.
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