The Santen group conducts research in the field of nonequilibrium statistical physics.

The focus of interest is the physics of

  • transport processes (traffic, cells),
  • phase transitions in disordered systems,
  • the dynamics of adsorption processes (e.g. protein adsorption on teeth).

Collaborative Research Center 1027

A8: Motor-driven transport of intracellular cargo: Cooperativity and control 

In this project we address several aspects of the cooperative dynamics of molecular motors. We analyze, both experimentally and theoretically, the dynamics of rigid and vesicular cargo which is propelled by teams of dynein and kinesin motors along microtubules (MTs). The knowledge gained in this part of the project will be applied to identify possible strategies for external motility control in intracellular and artificial transport systems. We will focus on the influence of posttranslational modifications of MTs on the motor-dynamics, as well as on the mechanical properties of motor-driven MTs.

B1: Modeling biofilms - proteins and bacteria

How do dental biofilms survive antimicrobial treatments (e.g. brushing, mouth wash)? Mechanical and adhesive forces in biofilms help to protect the bacteria and regulate their behavior but how they do so is poorly understood. Studying this in natural biofilms is daunting due to microscale heterogeneities in their structure. To simplify this task, this project will develop artificial biofilms by embedding bacteria in synthetic hydrogels with mechanical and adhesive properties mimicking dental biofilms. Influence of these properties on bacterial behavior (growth, viability, metabolism, etc.) will be determined and the efficacy of toothbrushes/anti-biofilm agents to remove these artificial biofilms will be assessed in vitro.