2018 BFY III Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Introducing Students to Biophysics with a Centrifuge Force Microscope
Abstract: In recent years efforts have been made to reduce the cost and complexity of single-molecule experiments. In 2016 the Halvorsen Lab (RNA Institute, University at Albany) designed, built, and tested a small, self contained, wireless microscope capable of fitting into a commercial centrifuge outfitted with a bucket system [1]. Using this centrifuge force microscope (CFM) data was obtained on DNA duplex shearing forces, attesting to the viability of the instrument.

We have designed and built a CFM based on the Halvorsen Lab's design. Efforts have been made to modernize and simplify the apparatus. We have elected to use a newer, more powerful microcontroller, a smaller camera, and alternate battery placement. Two identical microscopes have been assembled that may be placed across from each other to simplify centrifuge balancing. The CFM has successfully imaged while stationary and the structure has been tested at high forces. Soon we will begin testing and calibrating the CFM for biophysical experimentation.

Our primary goal is to use the CFM to introduce students to quantitative single-molecule biophysics. The CFM is a low-cost (<$2000 + centrifuge), simple-to-use alternative to more familiar methods of measuring biomolecule force-extension curves via optical tweezers or atomic force microscopy.  Additionally, with a four-bucket centrifuge system and identical instruments up to four different experiments could be conducted simultaneously. These factors make the CFM a viable method for upper year undergraduate biophysical learning and experimentation.

Work supported by the University of Alberta through a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant (The UAlberta/Geekstarter Science Hardware Space), the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Science; and by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Province of Alberta Research Capacity Program.  Special thanks to Noel Hoffer and the Michael Woodside Lab.  

[1] T. Hoang, D.S. Patel, K. Halvorsen. A wireless centrifuge force microscope (CFM) enables multiplexed single-molecule experiments in a commercial centrifuge. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 87:8 (2016).
Abstract Type: Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Tristan Stark
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Non U.S. T6G 0B9
Phone: 7806787949
and Co-Presenter(s)
Mark Freeman
University of Alberta
Department of Physics, 3-195 CCIS
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 0B9
Email: mark.freeman -at- ualberta.ca

David Fortin
University of Alberta
Department of Physics, L1-057 CCIS
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 0B9
Email: dcfortin -at- ualberta.ca