Laboratory of Complex Fluids and Molecular Biophysics
We study the physics of complex liquid systems and of biomolecules in solution. Typical examples are DNA, proteins, colloidal suspensions, polymers and liquid crystals. Under given circumstances all these systems spontaneously develop fascinating organized structures. The goal of our research is to probe and understand the relationship between the properties of the constituting elements (monomers, molecules, particles) and their spontaneous assembling. Our interests extend from fundamental physics to technological applications, and our aims range from unraveling the mechanisms of individual or collective molecular behavior to discovering novel materials and experimental approaches. The techniques we use include optical microscopy, light scattering, laser spectroscopy, rheology, electrically induced optical birefringence.
The research in our group is mostly organized along three main themes:
- Soft materials
We investigate the structure and properties of heterogeneous fluid materials such as colloids, emulsions, liquid crystals and gels, possibly involving DNA or proteins. Our focus is on developing a fundamental understanding of their properties, as well as using the materials as models for the study of complex phenomena. In addition, much of our work is motivated by potential technological applications.
We study the properties of biological macromolecules and of cells. We focus on the physics of biopolymers through the investigation of the self-assembly and ordering of DNA fragments, the mechanism of protein folding, the kinetics of molecular recognition processes and the dynamical behavior of biopolymer networks. We also extend these studies to investigate the mechanical properties of living cells.
- Novel optical techniques
We develop innovative optical approaches for specific technological issues and for scientific investigations. This includes novel methods for the optical investigation of complex fluids and biomolecular samples, primarily based on light scattering, microscope imaging and time resolved spectroscopy. In particular, innovative solutions are proposed in the field of label-free biosensors and quantitative dynamic microscopy.
Laboratory web site
L.I.T.A. building, via F. Cervi 93, 20090 Segrate (Milano), Italy