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the study of physical sciences to the quantitative understanding of biological structure, systems & function

Single molecule imaging of dynein motors (green) on microtubules (red). Image courtesy of Ron Vale, Ph.D., UCSF

The study and application of the physical sciences to the quantitative understanding of biological structure, systems and function

Biophysics also relates to the exploitation of this understanding to create new devices for use in medicine, robotics, and fields of nanotechnology. Investigations in biophysics tend to be at the molecular level involving study of individual molecules or complexes, their interactions and the kinetics of these interactions.  For example, optical tweezers are commonly used to understand the mechanics of how molecular motors move and to determine the physical properties of DNA.  Nikon’s Eclipse Ti inverted microscope, with its flexible structure and high quality optics is an optimal platform for optical trap experiments.  Nikon also provides objectives with high N.A. and high transmission rates at IR wavelengths, suitable for optical trapping experiments, such as the Apo TIRF 100x 1.4 N.A. and Plan Apo IR 60x WI lenses.  Theses lenses are also suited for high N.A. DIC imaging, an imaging technique commonly used during optical trap experiments to confirm the location of molecules.  For example, high N.A. DIC enables visualization of the microtubule tracks that the motors are moving on.  Nikon also provides a flip mirror illuminator that allows users to easily incorporate an optical trap laser into an epi-fluorescence Ti microscope without the need for a stage-up kit.  Optical trap experiments can also be combined with advanced fluorescence imaging applications such as FRET to further understand the inter-molecular dynamics at the single-molecule level. For visualizing single molecules, Nikon’s TIRF system provides incredible signal-to-noise ratio and even illumination of the field for single-molecule imaging.  Nikon’s super-resolution system, N-STORM, localizes several, different populations of molecules down to the single molecule resolution, providing nano-scale spatial information for large populations of molecules which may aid in biophysics studies.

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