E14 Biomolecular Systems and Bionanotechnology:
The chair of bioelectronics is located at the Walter Schottky Institute - center for nanotechnology and nanomaterials of the Technische Universität München (University of Technology, Munich). The research goal is the realization of self-organizing molecular systems that are able to respond to their environment, compute, move, take action. On the long term, they envision autonomous systems that are reconfigurable, that can learn, evolve or develop.
Current reserch highlights:
DNA and RNA molecules can turn into many different structures such as double- stranded molecules made of complementary DNA molecules or self- complementary sequences which form hairpin loops for example. Molecular structures may be designed to switch reversibly between different structures, which may have particular functions. They might be used as mechanical actuators, motors, sensors or computational elements.
DNA hybridization, enzymatic catalysis or other biochemical processes can be used to simulate biomolecular analogues of electronic logic circuits and signal processing. The production or release of certain biomolecules can be made dependent on the evaluation of “diagnostic” computational rules. These artificial biochemical circuits offer great chances for the development of advanced biosensors as well as the re-programming of biological systems.
DNA with its biophysical and –chemical properties can be used to construct and the assimilation of artificial biomolecular nanostructures. The close relation between the DNA sequence and the structure qualifies DNA as perfect material for “programmable” self-assembly. The recent development of the “DNA origami” technique is explored in the context of biophysics and bionanotechnology in this group.
Channels in lipid bilayer membranes can be used as detectors for the translocation of biological single molecules. The application of a voltage across a bilayer membrane leads to a current in the pico-ampere range due to an open membrane pore. Molecules drawn through the pore because of electrophoresis cause a reduction of the ionic current. Statistical analysis of the current blockades of a large number of translocation events allows a characterization of the translocating species and its characterization. This popular technique is used in this lab for the characterization of unconventional DNA and RNA structures.