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Steven Block

Faculty

Stanford W. Ascherman, M.D., Professor of Applied Physics and of Biology
Research Areas: 
Description of Interests: 

Biophysics

The Block lab, which carries out research in the area of single molecule biophysics, explores the nanoscience of life. Nature’s own nanoscale machines, which include proteins and nucleic acids, are complex macromolecules that are exquisitely ‘designed’ (evolutionarily adapted!) to carry out a multitude of sophisticated functions. Using modern laser-based approaches, which include optical traps, single-molecule fluorescence/FRET, and advanced microscopies, we’ve been able to develop instruments that can measure the nanometer-scale displacements and piconewton-scale forces associated with individual biomolecules. Among the things we’re studying these days are kinesin (a motor protein), RNA polymerase (the enzyme that reads the genetic code), riboswitches (mRNA molecules that fold into shapes and regulate genes), and more (ribozymes, transcription accessory factors, such as NusA/G, Gre A/B, TFIIS/TFIIF, rho, etc.)

Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering

The Block lab, which carries out research in the area of single molecule biophysics, explores the nanoscience of life. Nature’s own nanoscale machines, which include proteins and nucleic acids, are complex macromolecules that are exquisitely ‘designed’ (evolutionarily adapted!) to carry out a multitude of sophisticated functions. Using modern laser-based approaches, which include optical traps, single-molecule fluorescence/FRET, and advanced microscopies, we’ve been able to develop instruments that can measure the nanometer-scale displacements and piconewton-scale forces associated with individual biomolecules. Among the things we’re studying these days are kinesin (a motor protein), RNA polymerase (the enzyme that reads the genetic code), riboswitches (mRNA molecules that fold into shapes and regulate genes), and more. Our work also involves, among many other things, the nanofabrication of chemically-derivatized quartz cylinders and other shapes for optical trapping and the attachment of biomolecules, and the development of cutting-edge micro- and nanofluidic devices for use in biological assays.

Lasers and Accelerators

The Block lab, which carries out research in the area of single molecule biophysics, explores the nanoscience of life. Nature’s own nanoscale machines, which include proteins and nucleic acids, are complex macromolecules that are exquisitely ‘designed’ (evolutionarily adapted!) to carry out a multitude of sophisticated functions. Using modern laser-based approaches, which include optical traps, single-molecule fluorescence/FRET, and advanced microscopies, we’ve been able to develop instruments that can measure the nanometer-scale displacements and piconewton-scale forces associated with individual biomolecules. Among the things we’re studying these days are kinesin (a motor protein), RNA polymerase (the enzyme that reads the genetic code), riboswitches (mRNA molecules that fold into shapes and regulate genes), and more. We use microscopes, optics and highly stabilized DPSS lasers extensively in our work.

Condensed Matter Physics

The Block lab, which carries out research in the area of single molecule biophysics, explores the nanoscience of life. Nature’s own nanoscale machines, which include proteins and nucleic acids, are complex macromolecules that are exquisitely ‘designed’ (evolutionarily adapted!) to carry out a multitude of sophisticated functions. Using modern laser-based approaches, which include optical traps, single-molecule fluorescence/FRET, and advanced microscopies, we’ve been able to develop instruments that can measure the nanometer-scale displacements and piconewton-scale forces associated with individual biomolecules. Among the things we’re studying these days are kinesin (a motor protein), RNA polymerase (the enzyme that reads the genetic code), riboswitches (mRNA molecules that fold into shapes and regulate genes), and more. We have recently been able to achieve angstrom-level sensitivity with our instruments, and can consequently record the individual base-pair steps taken by polymerase molecules that move along DNA: these measure just 3.4 angstroms each.

History

Member for
3 years 10 months