Single molecule tools have made a profound impact in physics, chemistry and biology as they have uncovered the operating principles of both natural and synthetic molecular devices. I will present my work on developing and applying single molecule tools in studies of synthetic chemistry and biological machines. In the first part, I will describe two single molecule insulators realized through different designs and working principles, demonstrating that an ultimate molecular insulator can be achieved using bicycle [2,2,2] octasilane that exhibits complete destructive quantum interference in the transmission. This discovery showcases the scanning tunneling microscope break junction technique as a testbed for quantum theory. In the second part, I will discuss the molecular mechanism of how a transfer RNA corrects frameshift mutations during ribosome-catalyzed protein synthesis. Through single molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer approach combined with ensemble kinetic experiments, we provide unique insights into the timing, location and mechanism of ribosomal frameshifting events.
Dr. Haixing Li is a Charles H. Revson Senior Fellow working with Prof. Ruben Gonzalez at Columbia University studying the mechanism of ribosomal frameshifting. She earned her Ph.D. in Applied Physics with Prof. Latha Venkataraman at Columbia University, where she investigated electronic properties of molecular silicon. Prior to arriving at Columbia, she obtained her B.S. in Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China where she worked on superconductors and dye-sensitized solar cells, and as a visiting student at the University of Oxford where she researched in the field of quantum optics.
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