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Photo - Massimo Antognozzi

Developing tools for Bio-Nanoscience

My main research interests are in the area of bio-nanoscience. In particular, I am currently developing a dedicated scanning probe microscope to investigate the dynamic properties of confined liquid films. This technique will allow to detect the organization of confined molecules with unprecedented nanometer spatial resolution. Interesting questions related to the interaction between adsorbed biomolecules and the surrounding liquid environment will also be accessible.

The second area of research is focused on understanding the different mechanisms regulating the activity of molecular motors and will make use of optical tweezers combined with total internal reflection fluorescence to simultaneously monitor their chemical and mechanical activity.

Water Layers image

Figure caption:

When the oscillating probe of our Transverse Dynamic Force Microscope (TDFM) approaches a mica surface in air (gray curve), it experiences a sudden drop in oscillation amplitude at a few Å from the surface. If the same approach curves are repeated in the presence of pure water, a series of periodic steps is revealed. The steps are a manifestation of the molecular layering of water in the confined space between the probe and the mica surface. The step periodicity is 0.23 nm. This value is within 10% of the diameter of a water molecule.