Replicating bacterial chromosomes continuously demix from each other and segregate within a compact volume inside the cell called the nucleoid. Although many proteins involved in this process have been identified, the nature of the global forces that shape and segregate the chromosomes has remained unclear because of limited knowledge of the micromechanical properties of the chromosome. In this work, we demonstrate experimentally the fundamentally soft nature of the bacterial chromosome and the entropic forces that can compact it in a crowded intracellular environment. We developed a unique "micropiston" and measured the force-compression behavior of single Escherichia coli chromosomes in confinement. Our data show that forces on the order of 100 pN and free energies on the order of 10(5) k(B)T are sufficient to compress the chromosome to its in vivo size. For comparison, the pressure required to hold the chromosome at this size is a thousand-fold smaller than the surrounding turgor pressure inside the cell. Furthermore, by manipulation of molecular crowding conditions (entropic forces), we were able to observe in real time fast (approximately 10 s), abrupt, reversible, and repeatable compaction-decompaction cycles of individual chromosomes in confinement. In contrast, we observed much slower dissociation kinetics of a histone-like protein HU from the whole chromosome during its in vivo to in vitro transition. These results for the first time provide quantitative, experimental support for a physical model in which the bacterial chromosome behaves as a loaded entropic spring in vivo.
This study used a novel feedback approach to control a robotic foot using force and length signals transmitted from an isolated Xenopus laevis frog muscle. The foot's environment (inertial versus hydrodynamic), gearing (outlever/inlever) and size were changed to alter the muscle's load. Upon nerve stimulation (250 Hz, 80 ms train duration), variation in loading generated a range of muscle stress (19.8±5.3 to 66.0±22.5 kPa), work (1.89±0.67 to 6.87±2.96 J kg(-1) muscle) and power (12.4±7.5 to 64.8±28.3 W kg(-1) muscle; mean ± s.d., N=6 frogs). Inertial versus hydrodynamic loading dramatically shifted contractile dynamics. With the foot in water, the muscle generated ∼30% higher force, yet shortened slower, producing lower power than inertial loading. Power increased in air from 22.6±5.8 to 63.6±27.2 W kg(-1) muscle in response to doubling the gear ratio, but did not increase in water. Surprisingly, altering foot size diminished muscle performance in water, causing power to drop significantly from 41.6±11.1 to 25.1±8.0 W kg(-1) muscle as foot area was doubled. Thus, morphological modifications influenced muscle dynamics independently of neural control; however, changes in loading environment and gearing affected contractile output more strongly than changes in foot size. Confirming recent theory, these findings demonstrate how muscle contractile output can be modulated solely by altering the mechanical environment.
Materials that have subwavelength structure can add degrees of freedom to optical system design that are not possible with bulk materials. We demonstrate two lenses that are composed out of lithographically patterned arrays of elliptical cross-section silicon nanowires, which can dynamically reconfigure their imaging properties in response to the polarization of the illumination. In each element, two different focusing functions are polarization encoded into a single lens. The first nanowire lens has a different focal length for each linear polarization state, thereby realizing the front end of a nonmechanical zoom imaging system. The second nanowire lens has a different optical axis for each linear polarization state, demonstrating stereoscopic image capture from a single physical aperture.
Wrubel J, Gabrielse G, Klothammer WS, Larochelle P, McConnell R, Richerme P, Grzonka D, Oelert W, Sefzick T, Zielinski M, Borbely JS, George MC, Hessels EA, Storry CH, Weel M, Mullers A, Walz J, Speck A. Pumped helium system for cooling positron and electron traps to 1.2 K. In: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. 2011 p. 232–240.
Single-molecule techniques provide opportunities for molecularly precise imaging, manipulation, assembly and biophysical studies. Owing to the kinetics of bond rupture processes, rapid single-molecule measurements can reveal novel bond rupture mechanisms, probe single-molecule events with short lifetimes and enhance the interaction forces supplied by single molecules. Rapid measurements will also increase throughput necessary for technological use of single-molecule techniques. Here we report a nanomechanical sensor that allows single-molecule force spectroscopy on the previously unexplored microsecond timescale. We probed bond lifetimes around 5 μs and observed significant enhancements in molecular interaction forces. Our loading-rate-dependent measurements provide experimental evidence for an additional energy barrier in the biotin-streptavidin complex. We also demonstrate quantitative mapping of rapid single-molecule interactions with high spatial resolution. This nanomechanical interface may allow studies of molecular processes with short lifetimes and development of novel biological imaging, single-molecule manipulation and assembly technologies.
We report a new kind of experiment in which we take an array of nanoscale apertures that form a superfluid (4)He Josephson junction and apply quantum phase gradients directly along the array. We observe collective coherent behaviors from aperture elements, leading to quantum interference. Connections to superconducting and Bose-Einstein condensate Josephson junctions as well as phase coherence among the superfluid aperture array are discussed.
We introduce active, probe-based microrheological techniques for measuring the flow and deformation of complex fluids. These techniques are ideal for mechanical characterization either when little sample is available, or when samples show significant spatial heterogeneity. We review recent results, paying particular attention to comparing and contrasting rheological parameters obtained from micro- and macro-rheological techniques.
We report the observation of superfluid quantum interference in a compact, large-area matter-wave interferometer consisting of a multiple-turn interfering path in reciprocal geometry. Utilizing the Sagnac effect from Earth's rotation in conjunction with a phase shifter made of superfluid heat current, we demonstrate that such a scheme can be extended for sensitive rotation sensing as well as for general interferometry.
We present results on terahertz (THz) spectroscopy on epitaxial vanadium dioxide (VO(2)) films grown on sapphire across the metal-insulator transition. X-ray diffraction indicates the VO(2) film is highly oriented with the crystallographic relationship: (002)(film)//(0006)(sub) and (film)//[2 ̅1 ̅10](sub). THz studies measuring the change in transmission as a function of temperature demonstrate an 85% reduction in transmission as the thin film completes its phase transition to the conducting phase, which is much greater than the previous observation on polycrystalline films. This indicates the crucial role of microstructure and phase homogeneity in influencing THz properties.
The ability to manipulate and observe single biological molecules has led to both fundamental scientific discoveries and new methods in nanoscale engineering. A common challenge in many single-molecule experiments is reliably linking molecules to surfaces, and identifying their interactions. We have met this challenge by nanoengineering a novel DNA-based linker that behaves as a force-activated switch, providing a molecular signature that can eliminate errant data arising from non-specific and multiple interactions. By integrating a receptor and ligand into a single piece of DNA using DNA self-assembly, a single tether can be positively identified by force-extension behavior, and receptor-ligand unbinding easily identified by a sudden increase in tether length. Additionally, under proper conditions the exact same pair of molecules can be repeatedly bound and unbound. Our approach is simple, versatile and modular, and can be easily implemented using standard commercial reagents and laboratory equipment. In addition to improving the reliability and accuracy of force measurements, this single-molecule mechanical switch paves the way for high-throughput serial measurements, single-molecule on-rate studies, and investigations of population heterogeneity.
This study aimed to compare the swimming kinematics and hydrodynamics within and among aquatic and semi-aquatic/terrestrial frogs. High-speed video was used to obtain kinematics of the leg joints and feet as animals swam freely across their natural range of speeds. Blade element analysis was then used to model the hydrodynamic thrust as a function of foot kinematics. Two purely aquatic frogs, Xenopus laevis and Hymenochirus boettgeri, were compared with two semi-aquatic/terrestrial frogs, Rana pipiens and Bufo americanus. The four species performed similarly. Among swimming strokes, peak stroke velocity ranged from 3.3+/-1.1 to 20.9+/-2.5, from 6.8+/-2.1 to 28.6+/-3.7 and from 4.9+/-0.5 to 20.9+/-4.1 body lengths per second (BL s(-1)) in X. laevis, H. boettgeri and R. pipiens, respectively (means +/- s.d.; N=4 frogs for each). B. americanus swam much more slowly at 3.1+/-0.3 to 7.0+/-2.0 BL s(-1) (N=3 frogs). Time-varying joint kinematics patterns were superficially similar among species. Because foot kinematics result from the cumulative motion of joints proximal to the feet, small differences in time-varying joint kinematics among species resulted in species-specific foot kinematics (therefore hydrodynamics) patterns. To obtain a simple measure of the hydrodynamically useful motion of the foot, this study uses 'effective foot velocity' (EFV): a measure of the component of foot velocity along the axis of swimming. Resolving EFV into translational and rotational components allows predictions of species-specific propulsion strategies. Additionally, a novel kinematic analysis is presented here that enables the partitioning of translational and rotational foot velocity into velocity components contributed by extension at each individual limb joint. Data from the kinematics analysis show that R. pipiens and B. americanus translated their feet faster than their body moved forward, resulting in positive net translational EFV. Conversely, translational EFV was slower than the body velocity in H. boettgeri and X. laevis, resulting in negative net translational EFV. Consequently, the translational component of thrust (caused mostly by hip, knee and ankle extension) was twofold higher than rotational thrust in Rana pipiens. Likewise, rotational components of thrust were nearly twofold higher than translational components in H. boettgeri. X. laevis, however, was the most skewed species observed, generating nearly 100% of total thrust by foot rotation generated by hip, ankle and tmt extension. Thus, this study presents a simple kinematics analysis that is predictive of hydrodynamic differences among species. Such differences in kinematics reveal a continuum of different propulsive strategies ranging from mostly rotation-powered (X. laevis) to mostly translation-powered (R. pipiens) swimming.