Thomas Perkins
Associate Professor • JILA Fellow
Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

MSE Areas: Single molecule, AFM, polymer physics, bio-material, protein folding, optical traps, biophysics

Single molecule force spectroscopy enables mechanical probing of individual biomolecules and protein assemblies. One question is how do molecular motors move along DNA? Another is how does the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins affect their function? The Perkins group focuses on developing single-molecule techniques and applying them to answer these and other interesting biophysical questions. We developed an optical-trapping assay with ~1Å stability and resolution in 3D. In parallel, we developed an ultrastable atomic force microscope that is a 100-fold more stable than the prior state of the art. We are applying these techniques to imaging and mechanically unfolding important biomolecules, such as membrane proteins, as well as enhancements to the underlying technology. Applications of the ultrastable AFM to nanotechnology are also being pursued.

Selected Publications and Accomplishments

G. M. King, A. R. Carter, A. B. Churnside, L. S. Eberle & T.T.(Perkins, Ultrastable Atomic Force Microscopy: AtomicVScale Stability and Registration in Ambient Conditions, Nano Letters ,(9, 1451V6 (2009).

D. H. Paik, and T.T. Perkins, Ovestretching DNA at 65 pN does not require peeling from free ends or nicks, JACS 133, 3219V3221 (2011) [Cover Article].

D. H. Paik, and T.T. Perkins, Dynamics and Multiple Stable Binding Modes of DNA Intercalators Revealed by Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. [Front cover].