Cees Dekker, Ph.D.

Nanotechnology for single-molecule and single-cell biophysics

Nanotechnology offers fantastic opportunities to contribute to biology. I will present two major examples where nanofabrication is used to unravel the biophysics of single molecules and cells:

  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 and proteins. I will describe some of our recent efforts to expand the capabilities of solid-state nanopores in the direction of single-protein detection and DNA sequencing with plasmonic nanopores.

  1. Exploring the 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 protein 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. Recently we expanded this to studies of the bacterial chromosome in shaped cells. Furthermore we are devising the first steps towards realizing synthetic cells in a bottom up fashion.


[1] C. Dekker, Solid-state nanopores, Nature Nanotechnology 2, 209−215 (2007); M. Muthukumar, C. Plesa, C. Dekker, Physics Today 68, 40–46 (2015).

[2] F. Wu et al, Nature Nanotechnology 10, 719–726 (2015);





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