Seeing the Dynamics: From Patchy Colloids to Nanoscale Biomolecules
Rich chemistry and physics emerge from the visualization of dynamics of both artificial and natural microscopic systems. Patchy colloids engineered with orientation dependent attractions offer self-assembly pathways reminiscent of atoms and molecules. The direct visualization of their interaction trajectories from fluorescent microscope allows us to interpret the design rules, examples including molecular reaction and dynamic lattice theory. We thus achieve design of materials transformative on demand. The nanoscale biomolecules, on the other hand, enjoy encoded transformative dynamics that up till now remain invisible to experimentalists, despite the extensive insights predicted by molecular theory and simulation. The challenge is a technical one: the electron microscopic tools seeing nanoscale objects with structural details work in a high vacuum that is incompatible with the liquid environment supporting dynamic events. We develop and implement a graphene liquid cell electron microscope technique instead, and show for the first time a real time trajectory of biomolecules whose 3 dimensional configuration and motions are resolved and reconstructed, opening an avenue to seeing the variety of function relevant biomolecular dynamics.
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