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Nanotechnology

Henry Hess: Engineering with Biomolecular Motors

A plenary presentation from SPIE Photonics West 2019.

26 February 2019, SPIE Newsroom. DOI:

Henry Hess, Columbia University (USA)Motor proteins, including kinesin, can serve as biological components in engineered nanosystems. A proof-of-principle application is a "smart dust" biosensor for the remote detection of biological and chemical agents. The development of this system requires the integration of a diverse set of technologies, illustrates the complexity of biophysical mechanisms, and enables the formulation of general principles for nanoscale engineering.

In this Nano/Biophotonics plenary presentation, Henry Hess of Columbia University discusses his group's most recent work, in which they created a molecular system that is capable of dynamically assembling and disassembling its building blocks while retaining its functionality, and demonstrates the possibility of self-healing and adaptation. Optical techniques are a key tool to interrogate and interact with these nanosystems as they enable non-destructive measurements with nanometer precision as well as the control of chemical events at the nanoscale.

Hess' presentation highlights the important contributions of photonics to the study of active nanosystems.


Related SPIE content:

See BiOS, LASE, and OPTO presentations from SPIE Photonics West 2019.

Biomolecular motors: A video interview with Henry Hess