Optical and magnetic force measurements during secretion of surfactants

Supervisor: O. Marti

The aim of this project is to develop, understand and apply mechanical characterization of surfactants during secretion in the lung. Starting with physics concepts relevant tools will be identified and implemented, in close collaboration with partners from engineering and medicine. Existing and well working micro rheological processes and instruments using optical (Marti group) or magnetic (Herr group, engineering) sensing will be combined. The following four intertwined tasks are defined:

  1. The designs of both types of traps need to be modified and to be adapted for compatibility. Physics modelling of optical and magnetic fields as well as the adaptation of the evaluation software (in collaboration with the Gottschalk group) is required.
  2. The properties and characteristics of magnetic beads in optical traps (e.g. plasmonic excitations) need to be characterized and modelled.
  3. The known methods (active optical micro-rheology, optical multi-point micro-rheology, magnetic micro-rheology, magnetic multi-point micro-rheology) will be tested in combined experiments and thus calibrated.
  4. The mechanical properties of isolated primary lung cells (Miklavc group, medicine) and of their secretion will be investigated and manipulated using the opto-magnetic combined trap.

Acquired competences during the project

Knowledge of physics and operation of optical and magnetic traps, micro-rheology, sensors with magnetic materials, integration of multiple sensor concepts into one sensor, biochemical sample preparation, microscopy, fundamental concepts of cell biology.