Professor Andersson is the College’s newest recipient of the prestigious NSF CAREER Award. The research objective of his Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) project is to establish a rigorous theoretical and experimental foundation for tracking single nanometer-scale particles and for tracking multiple particles simultaneously. Measurement of nanometer-scale particles often relies on a point-like sensor such as the focal point of a confocal microscope, the tip of a magnetic force microscope, or the probe of a near-field scanning optical microscope. The research approach centers on a nonlinear tracking control law and proceeds from analysis and design of the law to implementation on a scanning confocal microscope and experimental study of the approach using freely diffusing fluorescent nanoparticles.
If successful, the results of this research will enable the study of a wealth of dynamic phenomena in nanometer-scale systems, thereby facilitating advances in a wide variety of fields, including molecular biology, medicine, and neurobiology. An example application is the study of the dynamics of ribonucleic acid (RNA) during the transcription process in bacterial cells. A deeper understanding of this process has important practical applications for the development of diagnostic and treatment options for diseases caused by bacterial infections such as dysentery, cholera, and tuberculosis. The project will involve undergraduate and graduate students in interdisciplinary research, ranging from the rigorous mathematics of systems and control theory to imaging and detection methods in molecular biology. Pre-university students in grades 10-12 will be engaged through nanotechnology-based science modules motivated by the project research and developed in collaboration with high school teachers.