The research in the Fang Laboratory aims to open new frontiers in chemical and biological discovery through the development and use of novel optical imaging platforms, which provide sub-diffraction-limited spatial resolution, high angular resolution (for anisotropic imaging probes), excellent detectability, and/or nanometer localization precision for single molecules and nanoparticles.
Rotational Tracking: The knowledge of rotational dynamics in and on live cells remains highly limited due to technical limitations. The Single Particle Orientation and Rotational Tracking (SPORT) techniques have been developed in the Fang Laboratory to acquire accurate measurements of anisotropic plasmonic gold nanorods in complex cellular environments. Rich information in five dimensions, including the x, y, z coordinates and the two orientation angles (azimuthal angle ϕ and polar angle θ , as defined in the figure) of the probe’s transition dipole, can be obtained from SPORT experiments. The SPORT technique is capable of extracting important information (including rotational rates, modes, and directions) on the characteristic rotational dynamics involved in cellular processes, such as adhesion, endocytosis, and transport of functionalized nanoparticles, as may be relevant to drug delivery and viral entry.
Single Molecule Catalysis: Real time imaging of single catalyst active sites in situ enables mechanistic studies on fundamental reaction steps under actual turnover operando conditions; these studies have enormous potential impact in establishing intimate structure-property relationships from which to build better (faster, cleaner, cheaper) catalysts. Our research aims to design catalytic platforms for single molecule imaging and reveal molecular dynamics (including diffusion, adsorption, and chemical conversion, as well as their coupling) on the nanocatalyst surfaces or in the nanoporous structures at the single-molecule level.
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