BIONANOSCIENCE RESEARCH UNIT
Head of Research Unit:
András DÉR - head of research group, scientific adviser
Péter GALAJDA - head of research group, senior research associate
The interest of the unit is directed towards the physical properties of biological systems at the microscopic level. The structure and function of biological objects on the microscopic scale is investigated, with special attention to mechanical, electrical, optical properties, interactions, motions, and details of energy transduction. The interest ranges from single biomolecules to populations of bacteria. We try to identify crucial steps during the biological function, motions of atoms, charges, large molecules and even whole cells. Accordingly, different experimental methods are applied that match the systems under study. In general, our research has an intensive technological character, we develop and use innovative methods in our experimental approach.
We extensively use optical manipulation from single molecule studies to manipulating whole cells. The group of Lóránd Kelemen is active in studying and developing the procedure. By the use of photopolymerized microstructures as tools, new manipulation schemes have been introduced. Optical manipulation, in combination with structure building by photopolymerization, offers also the possibility to create and manipulate engineered artificial, objects to model biological motion under well controlled conditions.
The main interest of the group of András Dér concerns the electronic properties of biomolecules. Bioelectronics is a broad area that covers electronic phenomena connected to the function of biomolecules that emerge following charge displacements of different velocities after excitation. Bioelectronics also refers to the application of biomolecules that utilise specific electronic and optical properties in optoelectronics applications. It is our long-term goal to develop protein based components with applications in integrated optical devices.
A higher level of biological complexity interesting to us is represented by the endothelial and epithelial cell layers found at various locations in higher organisms. In collaboration with the Biological barriers research group we study different physiological aspects of these important structures.
The experimental platforms for most of our studies are based on microfluidics. Single molecule studies and investigations of cells are all carried out using microfluidic systems. Optical manipulation experiments use microchannels and compartments, we even developed a sophisticated microfluidics system to study the endothelial cell layers in a complex manner.
Microfluidics is also a crucial technique for us to study bacterial populations, a new direction in our institute initiated by Péter Galajda. The fundamental concept of their research concerns the social life, the communication and pattern formation of bacteria, as well as the role of the spatial and temporal structure of the environment.
The research of the unit covers a wide spectrum of fields as well as a broad range of scales regarding object size and complexity, however, the concepts and the approaches are closely related. Consequently, the studies take place in a coordinated manner, numerous projects are realised as a joint effort of several groups.