• Prof. Jinqing Huang, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Prof. Jinqing Huang and her team at HKUST are developing new single-molecule spectroscopic platforms to study heterogeneous molecular systems in a label-free manner. Recently, the team combined optical tweezers and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to create a hotspot to characterize the secondary structures of proteins in dilute solution.
This optical tweezers-controlled hotspot can provide tunable and reproducible SERS enhancements with up to single-molecule level sensitivity, which helps to identify the transient species of alpha-synuclein (an intrinsically disordered protein closely linked to Parkinson's disease) to reveal the mechanism of amyloid protein aggregation. Besides, it also has the potential to integrate with other surface-sensitive techniques to make single-molecule detections easier.