Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Dr Cait McPhee, University of Edinburgh, entitled 'Proteins as switchable Janus ellipsoids'

25 October 2016

Janus particles are micro- or nano-scale particles whose surfaces have two or more distinct physical properties. Such asymmetry results in interesting self-assembly properties, but homogeneous Janus particles can be difficult to synthesize. The protein BslA (Bacterial Surface Layer A) is a small (~4 nm) protein produced by the bacterium Bacillus subtilis that has a hydrophilic ‘body’ to which is appended a surface-exposed hydrophobic ‘cap’. These properties allow the ellipsoidal protein to partition to oil- and air-water interfaces where it self-assembles to form a robust, elastic, and highly hydrophobic film. We have investigated the behaviour of BslA using a combination of biophysical experiments and multiscale simulations.
In her talk, Dr McPhee will describe how BslA provides an intriguing example of a colloidal particle with switchable, environmentally-responsive physical features that have potential applications in nanoscale self-assembly.

Friday 4 November 2016 @ 3.30pm, Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road, Oxford