Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COSMOS (Control and measurement of single macromolecules in space and time)
Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31
The recruited team started out with two doctoral (DPhil) students, and a postdoc working on theory and computation, all of whom transferred with the group from Zurich to Oxford. Within 6 to 9 months of moving to Oxford we had recruited two additional full-time postdocs and one part-time technician on the experimental side, and an additional PhD student with a focus on computation. The group currently consists of 6 doctoral students and 4 postdocs all contributing to various aspects of the project. The team now has the right strength and mix of skills, team members have acquired the relevant background training in our fields of interest and are poised to make a concerted move towards realising the goals of the project.
In the first phase of the project we have specifically been able to reproduce and improve upon previous electrometry measurements on single molecules in solution. In addition we already count a few major additional unpublished research achievements. We have: (1) demonstrated the ability to use electrometry to address questions related to molecular structure of nucleic acids like DNA and RNA, (2) developed a new experimental approach that facilitates the imaging of surface electrical charge distribution of material interfaces immersed in an electrolyte, and (3) made fundamental advances into the understanding key mechanisms underlying electrostatic interactions in solution. Overall, in the first phase of the project we have laid the foundations for breakthroughs on three fronts comprising new technologies, fundamentally new molecular measurement ability and basic science discovery.