PhD position: Nano-optics to probe protein structures

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 26 Feb 2021

Understanding the structure, aggregation, and folding of proteins is a major research area nowadays. Improper folding and aggregation of specific proteins are among the common cause of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases currently have a growing prevalence in the world and a high societal economic cost. While protein aggregation has been widely studied, there exists a manifold of questions about the evolution of structural conformations of single proteins before and during aggregation, the aggregation rates of single protein molecules binding to a fibril, and the forces and mechanisms that influence aggregation at the single-molecule level. Insight into these mechanisms can have a great implication for neurodegenerative diseases.

The aim of this project is to realise novel nanophotonic structures that confine optical fields in a deep subwavelength space to probe the structure of single protein molecules. Localized plasmons from plasmonic nanocavities can enhance optical intensity by several orders of magnitude and this will be used to amplify the weak intensity from single proteins. This project will explore new approaches to efficiently interface nano-optical light confinement with protein molecules without influencing their aggregation rates or structures. We are interested to study alpha-synuclein protein, which is the main cause of Parkinson’s disease and it contributes to other neurogenerative diseases. You will work with a team that has expertise in biophysics, single molecule spectroscopy, and nanophotonics.

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