Professor: Lena F. Kourkoutis
Project Description: Organic materials, such as bacteria and viruses, are inherently three-dimensional (3D) and require 3D structural characterization at the nanometer scale. Additionally, soft matter is sensitive to irradiation and the vacuum conditions used in electron microscopes require rapid freezing to preserve the structure in its near-native state for high-resolution 3D structural analysis.
Cryo-electron tomography is a powerful technique used to probe the 3D nanoscale features of organic materials whose structures can be manipulated for technologically relevant applications. As part of this summer program, you will use cryo-electron tomography and computational algorithms to acquire 2D images of the specimen and reconstruct them in silico into 3D models for structural analysis. Due to their abundance and diversity, organic materials have applications ranging from renewable energy production to drug delivery. Acquiring the 3D structural information of soft materials can help elucidate their function and will ultimately allow us to engineer new materials with tailored properties.