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Exploring the Bio-Nano interface: probing live cells with nanodevices

Abstract: The rapidly evolving field of nanotechnology creates new frontiers for biological sciences. Recently, we and other groups show that vertical nanopillars protruding from a flat surface support cell survival and can be used as subcellular sensors to probe biological processes in live cells. In particular, we are exploring nanopillars as electric sensor, optical sensors, and structural probes. As an electrode sensor, nanopillars electrodes offer several advantages such as high sensitivity, subcellular spatial resolution, and precise control of the sensor geometry. We found that the 3D topology of the nanopillars electrodes is crucial for its enhanced signal detection. The high membrane curvature induced by vertical nanopillars significantly affects the distribution of curvature-sensitive proteins and stimulates several cellular processes in live cells. Interestingly, vertical nanopillars also induce well-controlled nuclear deformation. We use it as a unique platform to study nuclear rigidity and nuclear mechanotransduction in gene expression. Overall, our studies show a strong interplay between biological cells and nano-sized sensors, which is an essential consideration for future development of interfacing devices.
Speaker: Bianxiao Cui - Stanford University
Speaker Bio: Bianxiao Cui is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago under the supervision of Prof. Stuart Rice, working on dynamic heterogeneity and phase transition in colloidal liquid. After completing Ph.D., she worked as a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Steven Chu on single molecule imaging of nerve growth factor signal transduction in neurons. She joined the faculty of Stanford University, Department of Chemistry in 2008. Her main area of interest is to develop nanoscale tools to study electrophysiology and signal transduction in neurons at normal conditions and in neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, she focuses on developing (1) nano-electrodes to detect action potential propagation in neurons and cardiomyocytes and (2) nanoparticle optical sensors to measure cargo transport in axons. Her recent awards and distinctions include NIH New Innovator Award, NSF CAREER award, NSF Inspire award, Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering, Hellman Scholar, Searle Scholar Award and Dreyfus New Faculty award.
Poster Link: Poster