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Thesis: Nanomechanics of viral particles

Research AreaMicro and Nano Technology
Description

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The candidate should have a degree in Physics. Previous experience in laboratory research will be positively evaluated but it is not required. The candidate must show enthusiasm, high motivation and capability to learn new topics.

Description

 This PhD project aims at applying optomechanics to the study of the mechanical properties of viruses. In recent years, optomechanics has served to relevant fundamental advancements in physics, from gravitational wave detection to the study of mechanical quantum ground states, but it has not yet delivered its full applicability potential. This project will apply frontier advancements in optomechanics to the biosensing and diagnostic fields. Silicon nanowires, together carbon nanotubes and nanodrums, represent the ultimate limit in the miniaturization of nanomechanical resonators. It is expected that these devices can be applied for ultrasensitive mass sensing at the sub-zeptogram level and for mass spectroscopy of single biomolecules. However, the achievement of the optimal performance of these devices requires a detailed understanding of the nanomechanical response and a major development of the optical instrumentation for the detection of the picometer scale vibrations. In this project, advanced optical instrumentation and modeling of the nanomechanical and optical response of the nanosensors will be developed. Finite element simulations and analytical models will be developed in order to describe how the static and dynamic response of nanomechanical systems with different geometries behaves when subject to biological adsorption. The final aim will be to establish the potential for weighing single viruses, single biomolecules and measuring molecular recognition at the level of few events.

The work will be developed in a multidisciplinary environment with experts in nanomechanics, nanotechnology, nanofabrication and chemistry. The work involves both experimental and theoretical skills, but with a strong focus on nanomechanical characterization and mathematical modeling.

A contract for one year is offered, with further extension to 4 years or until completion of PhD.

Nature Nanotechnology 2, 18 (2007)

Nature Nanotechnology 3, 301 (2008)

Nature Nanotechnology 5, 641 (2010)

Nature Nanotechnology 9, 1047 (2014)

Nature Communications 7, 13452 (2016)

 Contact:

Dr. Montserrat Calleja

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