Biomolecular motors challenge imaging and enable sensing

Henry Hess, Thorsten Fischer, Ashutosh Agarwal, Parag Katira, Isaac Finger, Elizabeth Mobley, Robert Tucker, Jacob Kerssemakers, Stefan Diez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Biomolecular motors, such as the motor protein kinesin, are simultaneously objects of scientific inquiry and components for nanotechnology. The investigation of the properties of a biomolecular motor is challenging, since it is a dynamic nanoscale object but at the same time soft and fragile. Photonic techniques are well suited to these investigations due to their compatibility with an aqueous environment and their non-destructive character, however their resolution is often insufficient. We adapted Fluorescence Interference Contrast (FLIC) microscopy to the imaging of microtubules transported by kinesin motors (PNAS vol. 103, p. 15812) and achieved nm-resolution in the z-direction. This advance provided insights into the role of the kinesin tail for the functioning of the motor in vivo, but also enabled us to determine the "ground clearance" of molecular shuttles powered by kinesin motors. Kinesin-driven molecular shuttles, in turn, enable the design of highly integrated bionanodevices. Photons are the most suitable tool to communicate with such devices, since they can address molecules and nanoparticles packaged into the devices without the need for a physical connection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNanoscale Imaging, Sensing, and Actuation for Biomedical Applications V
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventNanoscale Imaging, Sensing, and Actuation for Biomedical Applications V - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 21 2008Jan 23 2008

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherNanoscale Imaging, Sensing, and Actuation for Biomedical Applications V
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Bionanotechnology
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Kinesin
  • Microtubule
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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