The electrostatic properties of macromolecules—specifically, their electrical charge and interior dielectric characteristics— are a vital component of their function as they contribute to the physical basis of mechanisms that range from molecular recognition, signalling and enzymatic catalysis to protein folding and aggregation, and are of fundamental relevance in experiment and theory.
The Krishnan group at the University of Zurich are pioneering the use of the “electrostatic fluidic trap” to perform novel experiments in the spatial control, manipulation, and measurement of nanoscale matter in solution. Their primary focus is on biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids but some experiments also involve inorganic entities displaying interesting photonic properties.
The unique “field-free” trap offers high-precision measurement of the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. They are able to measure a macromolecule›s electric charge with the precision of a single charge and below (<1e-). One of their goals is to use this approach to read out three-dimensional conformational changes or fluctuations in single macromolecules in real time.1, 2