Nanobiophysics group (NBP)

Nanobiophysics (NBP) is a multidisciplinary research group operating at the interfaces of physicschemistrybiology, and medicine. We are a team of committed researchers, aspiring to top-level biophysics research. Nanobiophysics participates in the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the Technical Medical Center.

Background: Proteins are the work horses of life, they are responsible for the processes that make life possible. They make transport and communication possible and catalyze reactions. The 3D fold of proteins and their function are generally believed to be strongly coupled. However, there is a large class of proteins that do not follow this function-stucture paradigm. These intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) do not adopt a single well-defined 3D fold in solution but undergo large shape fluctuations.

 In our research we study both how, in the absence of a well-defined fold, IDPs function and investigate why nature uses "machines without shape". We aim at unraveling the physical principles of biological processes at the molecular scale.

It starts to become clear that nature uses IDPs for multiple parallel functions which makes these proteins central hubs in interaction networks. The versatility of IDPs has a lot of merits including responsiveness and effective use of resources. This however comes at a cost. The absence of a unique persistent structure and the presence of multiple interaction sites also allows for unwanted harmful interactions and events which eventually result in protein aggregation diseases like Parkinson's disease.

To investigate IPDs in the context of both function and disease we make use of state of the art microscopy and spectroscopy. We develop cutting-edge bulk and single molecule technologies to address challenging research questions, and are particularly fascinated by the interface of nanotechnology and biology. We are always ready to apply our knowledge and technologies to other fields that require ultra-sensitive detection. Currently this includes the detection of viruses and nano-plastics.

We are providing education within Bachelor and Master programs in Applied Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Nanotechnology, and Technical Medicine. We have a range of challenging BSc and MSc project assignments available that suit students from different academic backgrounds.