Center of Cellular Nanoanalytics Osnabrück

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Collaborative Research Initiative

Engineered nanomaterials to interrogate cell biology across scales

The past decade has witnessed tremendous progress in engineering of nanomaterials with highly controlled chemical and physical properties. Being scaled in dimensions close to the molecular and supramolecular building blocks of the cell, these nanomaterials offer exciting possibilities to interrogate and manipulate biological processes with unmatched sensitivity and selectively. However, there is still a large gap between the fabrication of nanomaterials and their reliable application inside cells, and therefore their potential for fundamental research and biomedical application is still far from being fully exploited. The aim of this collaborative research initiative is to bridge this gap by interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together tailored nanomaterial fabrication and their interfacing with biomolecules with dedicated applications in molecular cell biology ranging from individual molecules to tissues and organisms by making use of advanced spectroscopy and microscopy techniques. We focus on selected types of nanomaterials and applications: (i) dielectric energy-converting nanoparticles for selective photomanipulation of proteins and lipids with ultrahigh spatial and temporal resolution; (ii) carbon nanomaterials for structural analyses in complex environments; (iii) interrogation and manipulation of cells via mechanical forces. Seven projects were initiated by kick-off funding of the profile line “Integrated Science”:

  • Ultrafast spectroscopy and microscopy of energy-converting nanoparticles
    (M. Haase, M. Imlau)
  • Photoactuated lipids for spatiotemporal control via energy-converting nanoparticles
    (J. Holthuis, M. Imlau)
  • Upconversion nanoparticles for superresolved photomanipulation in living cells
    (M. Haase, J. Piehler)
  • Nitrogen vacancy center nanodiamonds for ultrasensitive biomolecular EPR spectroscopy
    (W. Harneit, J. Klare)
  • Conductive carbon nanomaterials for probing protein structure and dynamics
    (C. Meyer, C. You)
  • Multifunctional nanoparticles for visualization of bacterial pathogenesis
    (D. Lisse, M. Hensel)
  • Surface nanoarchitectures for controlling cell mechanics and differentiation
    (A. Paululat, M. Steinhart)

These projects involve expertise from different disciplines including cell biology and model organisms, organic, inorganic and surface chemistry, photonics and laser physics as well as spectroscopy and microscopy. The dedicated laboratory infrastructure of the CellNanOs research building as well as its core facilities and unique instrumentations are of major importance for successfully implementing these highly interdisciplinary projects.