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2017/18 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS3522 Bionanophysics 1

15 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Dr Neil Thomson

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

Pre-requisite qualifications

Passed 2nd yr physics.

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHYS5480MAdvanced Bionanophysics

Module replaces

PHYS 3521 Bionanophysics

This module is not approved as a discovery module


This course will introduce students to the very latest cutting-edge scientific research in the field of experimental bionanophysics.

This will include areas such as:
- mechanics of biomolecules
- force generation in biological systems
- lipid membranes and their interactions with nanostructures
- lipid vesicles and microbubbles for medicinal applications
- protocells
-Nanoparticle applications in medicinal applications
- protein-mediated nanostructure fabrication
- biomolecular self-assembly
- the structure and dynamics of biomolecules in solution
-DNA and it’s sequencing through nanotechnology
- as well as some of the techniques used for their analysis such as microscopy.

The course will be taught in 5 individual sections. Each section will focus on a particular area, with lectures giving the background of the science of this fields and the students will work towards producing a critical analysis of recent journal article(s) for each section by learning and exploring the science behind the research.

Learning outcomes
Upon completing this module the students will have:
- an in-depth understanding of some of the most current science in bionanophysics including force generation by molecular motors, reversible folding of DNA, micromechanics of intact muscle, lipid membranes and their interactions with nanostructures, liposomes, protocell (minimal synthetic biological system), nano- medicine, protein-mediated nanostructure fabrication, biomineralisation and biomimetic nanomaterial, biomolecular self-assembly, the structure and dynamics of biomolecules such as DNA, DNA sequencing research.
- developed the skills of reading and extracting information from research journal articles;
- the ability to critically assess the science presented in research articles;
- developed skills in communicating their review of the research by means of an assessed oral review of the papers.

Skills outcomes
- Understanding of the mechanics of biomolecules
- Self-assembly of biomolecules for the fabrication of nanostructures.
- How biomolecules can control the shapes of nanostructures.
- Understand the principles behind the analysis of these materials.
- Understand how forces act at the nanoscale.
- Develop an understanding and contextualisation of applications of this science.
- Critically analyse research in the field.


Movement in Biological Systems
- Bacterial Motion: Motility and Chemotaxis
- Eukaryotic cell motion
- Motion within cells
- Cell Division
- Muscular movement

The Biophysics of Cell Membranes
- amphiphillic molecules
- liposomes
- self assembly and chemical force,
- membrane mechanics, understanding phase diagrams, phase behaviour in bilayers,
- phase separation mechanisms and kinetics, the forces governing domain structure, techniques for studying membranes,
- the biological relevance and importance of this research, applications - targeted delivery, sensors, protocells.

The Physics of Nucleic Acids
- Intermolecular Forces and Brownian Motion - Revision
- The structure of DNA and RNA
- DNA as a polymer chain
- DNA as a polyelectrolyte
- Hydration of DNA
- Imaging of DNA structures using scanning probe microscopy
- Molecular motors operating on DNA
- DNA sequencing
- DNA in Bionanotechnology

Proteins and Single Molecule Spectroscopy

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Reading lecture notes and recommended journal articles, as well as sourcing more literature.

The course will make use of original scientific material published in high-profile journals such as:
- Nature
- Science
- and other journals.

Each course section will recommend some short core reading material (such as a review or book chapter) along with 1-3 specific journal articles. All these will be available on the VLE through web-links and PDFs.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- The students will be monitored throughout the course by each lecturer with lecture attendances and feedback.
- Before they sit the exam their progress and understanding will be assessed by all 5 lecturer and the student peers in the form of their oral presentation.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 30 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/03/2016


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