Project Leader

Prof. Dr. Yuzhou Wu

Yuzhou Wu received her B. Sc. from Zhejiang University in China in 2008 and M. Sc. from National University of Singapore in 2011. Since 2010, she pursued her PhD with Prof. Tanja Weil in Ulm University and obtained her doctor degree in May 2013 with Summa Cum Laude.  Since then, she stayed in Prof. Weil’s group as project leader and joined MPIP together with Prof. Weil in 2016. She is also a Professor in Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, since 2016.

More about Yuzhou and her scientific topics in Mainz and Wuhan here.

Research Interests

1) Quantum Materials & Precision Sensing

The currently available techniques for molecular imaging capable of reaching atomic resolution are limited to low temperatures, vacuum conditions, or large amounts of sample. Quantum sensors based on the spin-dependent photoluminescence of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond offer great potential to achieve single-molecule detection with atomic resolution under ambient conditions. Diamond nanoparticles could also be prepared with implanted NV centers, thereby generating unique nanosensors that are able to traffic into living biological systems. Therefore, this technique might provide unprecedented access and insight into the structure and function of individual biomolecules under physiological conditions as well as observation of biological processes down to the quantum level with atomic resolution. However, nanodiamonds without coating would serious aggregating in biological environment. Therefore, a biopolymer-coating strategy has been developed using a PEG hybrid polymer derived from native albumin. NDs coated by these biopolymers are found to be highly stable in all tested biological buffers and also over a broad pH range (pH 2–8) without any aggregation. In addition, this protein-derived biopolymer provides high numbers of orthogonal functional groups from the amino acid residues, which allows easy post-modification of biomolecules. We are further developing these coated NDs as multifunctional bioprobes for non-invasive quantum sensing and hyperpolarized magnetic resonance imaging.

2) Hybrid biomaterials

Our research concerns the development of hybrid nanomaterials self-assembled from proteins, nucleic acids and inorganic nanoparticles. We particularly focus on the precision assembly of hybrid materials and create smart nanomaterials for nanomedicine, theranostic and biocatalysis. For instance, synthetic DNAs have proved to be extraordinarily useful as construction building blocks for nanostructuring. Due to the highly specific complementary interactions between designable nucleic acid strains and the great mechanical rigidity of the short double helices, these genetic materials has been rapidly developed in the last few decades for nanostructuring from two-dimensional to three dimentional structures, and even smart nanomachines. Integration of these fantastic DNA nanodevices with the highly sophaticated biofunctions provided by proteins and the flexible physical and chemical properties provided by synthetic polymers is opening a new area of functional nanomachines. Therefore, we are interested in developing precision hybrid nanomaterials based DNA, protein and synthetic polymers.

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