Lene V. Hau

Lene V. Hau

Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
Department of Physics, Harvard University
L Hau Photo
Light-matter interactions, nanoscience, and molecular biology: Experimental studies of protein dynamics at the single-molecule level.
Our research program is at the interface of the fields of light-matter interactions, nanoscience, and molecular biology. We aim to study protein dynamics at the single-molecule level, and our laboratory applies a combination of optical and electrophysiology methods.
In a current project, we probe the molecular dynamics and trap states of single proteins as they are captured in size-matched and voltage-biased nanopores with use of time-resolved single-molecule electrical conductance signals. With novel analysis techniques, we reveal the global dynamics of captured proteins based on single molecule data.
We have discovered a long-lasting, stable and low-noise trap state of avidin in a form-fitting nanopore, ClyA. Under voltage control, avidin docks with a particular protein orientation at the nanopore, and subsequently undocks after a pre-determined docking time. By also utilizing avidin’s high pI value of roughly 10 (avidin is thus positively charged for a very large range of pH values) and the strong and specific binding of avidin to its ligand biotin, the size-matched pair, avidin and ClyA, we have developed a new platform for the single-molecule studies of a whole range of other proteins, including enzymes, and their dynamics.
In this setup, avidin acts as a voltage controlled shuttle that can link to and transport biotinylated biomolecules to the pore for probing. The biotin-linker length and location (the latter determined by controlled point mutations for the protein of interest) specify the location and orientation of the analyte protein in the pore.
We are pursuing applications of the platform for probing the dynamics of enzymes of great importance for gene editing (Cas9, for example) and for photosynthesis (PSII, the light driven water splitting enzyme), where single molecule sensing is essential for understanding of enzymatic function. The platform will also be used as a novel probe for testing the efficacy of inhibitors for enzymes important in disease development.
In parallel, we are developing novel analysis methods and visualization techniques so data for large numbers of single-molecule events can be pooled to provide global views into molecular scale processes.

Selected Publications:

Naomi S. Ginsberg, Sean R. Garner, and Lene Vestergaard Hau, Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics, Nature 445, 623 (2007).

Anne Goodsell, Trygve Ristroph, J.A. Golovchenko, and Lene Vestergaard Hau. Field ionization of cold atoms near the wall of a single carbon nanotube. Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 133002 (2010).

Naomi S. Ginsberg, Joachim Brand, and Lene Vestergaard Hau, Observation of hybrid soliton vortex-ring structures in Bose-Einstein condensates, Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 040403 (2005).

Chien Liu, Zachary Dutton, Cyrus H. Behroozi, and Lene Vestergaard Hau, Observation of coherent optical information storage in an atomic medium using halted light pulses, Nature 409, 490-493 (2001).

Contact Information

Lyman Hall Building, Room 229
17 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Lab location: 109-116 & 211-214 Cruft Hall
p: 617 496-5967