Cees Dekker


Thursday, February 5, 2015, 5:00pm to 6:00pm


Pfizer Lecture Hall

Professor Cees Dekker, Delft University of Technology; Kavli Institute of Nanoscience. Nanotechnology for biology,from single molecules towards synthetic cells.  R.B. Woodward Lectures in the Chemical Sciences, Harvard/MIT Physical Chemistry Seminar.

Nanotechnology offers a range of opportunities to contribute to biology. Here I will present examples where nanofabrication – the ability to make confined structures with dimensions at will – is used to examine the biophysics of single molecules and cells. I will present some examples from our lab:

 1. DNA translocation through solid-state nanopores [1]

Solid-state nanopores have proven to be a surprisingly versatile probe for single-molecule analysis of DNA. I will describe some of our recent findings – specifically DNA knots – as well as our efforts to expand the capabilities of solid-state nanopores even further, in the direction of single-protein detection, graphene nanopores, plasmonic nanopores, and DNA origami nanopores.

 2. Exploring biophysics of bacteria with nanofabricated shapes [2]

We shape bacteria into forms that deviate from their natural phenotype. Specifically, I will show our ability to shape live E. coli bacteria into novel shapes such as rectangles, squares, triangles and circles. We study pattern formation in these geometries. I will show spatiotemporal oscillations of Min proteins – associated with cell division – in such artificial geometries of live E. coli cells.

 Finally, I will briefly sketch some of our ideas to explore the building of synthetic cells, specifically our first steps to establish synthetic cell division.


[1] C. Dekker, Solid-state nanopores, Nature Nanotechnol. 2, 209−215 (2007)

[2] F. Wu et al, Nature, under review