Transport through confining geometries is governed by a complex interplay of factors, including the channel geometry, driving force, interparticle interactions and specific interactions between particles and channel. The ability to directly observe the dynamics of colloidal particles in systems where we can control and tune all of these parameters means that they are ideally placed for unravelling this interplay. To achieve this, we combine microfluidic techniques with holographic optical tweezers to unambiguously understand molecular transport phenomena in arbitrary potential landscapes.
Recent highlights include exploring the effect of system geometry on particle capture from the bulk in porous media and establishing methods to detect molecular intermediates along a reaction coordinate. Excitingly, we have shown that analysis methods developed in our mesoscale experiments can be applied to single molecule experiments such as DNA folding or transport through membrane pores, and we are working with groups in this area to help further elucidate their findings
Alice L. Thorneywork, Jannes Gladrow, Yujia Qing, Marc Rico-Pasto, Felix Ritort, Hagan Bayley Anatoly B. Kolomeisky and Ulrich F. Keyser, ‘Direct detection of molecular intermediates from first passage times’, Sci. Adv., 6, 18, eaaz4642, (2020)
Stuart F. Knowles, Marcus Fletcher, Jeffrey Mc Hugh, Max Earle, Ulrich F Keyser, Alice L. Thorneywork, ‘Observing capture with a colloidal model membrane channel’, J. Phys.: Condens. Matt. (Emerging Leaders edition), 34, 344001, (2022)