University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, October 8th 2015
3:35 pm:
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium in 230 STSS/Bruininks Hall
Speaker: Giovanni Zocchi, UCLA
Subject: Nature’s molecular machines: a materials science approach
Refreshments to be served outside 230 SSTS after the colloquium.

The figure shows schematically a nano-rheology setup which allows sub-Angstrom resolution measurements of enzyme deformations.
Living matter, at the molecular scale, is different from usual matter. Biological molecules, specifically enzymes, deform without breaking, couple chemical reactions to molecular tasks. Nature’s molecular machines are not scaled down versions of macroscopic machines: molecular motors have nothing to do with Carnot cycles, and molecular pumps have nothing to do with hydrodynamics. So how do these molecules work. I will describe our advances in extracting universal mechanical properties of enzymes, and come to the surprising conclusion that the molecules of life are visco-elastic ! Enzymes “flow” from one solid – like conformation to another. As it turns out, the molecules we are made of behave dynamically like “silly putty”. Another universal conclusion is that any enzyme can be controlled mechanically, opening mechanical control for thousands of chemical reactions.

Faculty Host: Jochen Mueller

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