Gleanings from SMB 2011

PI's SMB 2011 presentation
on fast interfacing  techniques
is available at this link.

Every two winters the leaders in the field of Single Molecule Biophysics gather at the Aspen Center for Physics for a fast-paced five days of presentations, networking, discussions and the occasional slalom down Buttermilk. The topic: the very latest in research and experimental approach in this most demanding and promising of fields.

Most of us view chemistry as the bulk behavior of macroscopic quantities of chemicals that interact according to sensible rules based on mass conservation, valence properties, and so on. Single Molecule Biophysics (SMB) takes chemistry quite a few steps deeper, combining clever optical, biochemical, instrumentation and computing approaches to allow observation of the activities of individual molecules as they go about their work making things happen... this thing called life, for example.  SMB applications allow us to observe the transport, replication and transcription processes that occur continuously in every living cell.  They also illuminate the fundamental processes of what can go wrong with life as well. Observing molecular behavior is already revealing the molecular foundations of many diseases, including dread afflictions like cancer and Parkinson's disease. With understanding will come cures.

Clearly this field is among the most "nano" of nanotechnologies, placing severe demands on performance and stability of the coarse and fine positioning equipment that is the foundation for many SMB applications. For the past two conferences, PI has been proud to be a sponsor and participant. For 2011 we presented a non-commercial review of fast interfacing techniques that have proven valuable for extending the capabilities of SMB-class applications. This paper has been reformatted for easy viewing and is now available at this link.  Though it primarily spotlights SMB applications, we hope its information is valuable for any advanced application that can leverage interface throughput and determinacy.

2011's conference showed fascinating progress in the field, exemplified not only by the standing-room-only attendance and ongoing refinement of our understanding of the molecular basis of life, but also by several fascinating presentations from early industrial adopters of SMB techniques. These entrepreneurs are going to market with the first therapies and machines that leverage the field's teachings, and their endeavors represent the first commercial fruits of a highly important young field. Given the rapid pace of this energetic and innovative community, it is very safe to say that your life and those of your loved ones will benefit from SMB-rooted understanding and technologies.

Our deep thanks go to the organizers and participants of this fascinating conference.

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