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The nano-mechanics inside helical bacteria

Background: The smallest cell in the world, just 200nm thin, is of helical shape, and under-goes fast shape changes in 3D, corresponding to switching of different states of mechanical energy. Shortening and relaxation of protein chains inside the cell lead to fast body deformations ued for locomotion.

Problem: The transfer of energy inside the cell body leading to coordinated switching of the protein chains is hardly understood. Basic locomotion principles invented by nature need to be uncovered on a molecular scale.

Approach: Interferometrically measured shape changes reveal deformations and energy changes, which differ under external forces. Kramers rate modelling helps to interpret measured transitions between ground and excited states of mechanical energy


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