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EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future


Mapping microscopic viscosity and temperature using molecular rotors

Viscosity is one of the main factors which influence diffusion in condensed media. In a cell viscosity can play a role in several diffusion mediated processes, such as drug delivery, signalling and mass transport. Previously, alterations in viscosity in cells and organs have been linked to malfunction; however, mapping viscosity on a single-cell scale remains a challenge.

We have imaged viscosity inside lipid mono- and bi-layers, in cells and in atmospheric aerosol particles using fluorescent probes, called molecular rotors [1-5]. In molecular rotors the speed of rotation about a sterically hindered bond is viscosity-dependent [1] which strongly affects fluorescence lifetime or spectra of rotors, allowing fluorescence imaging. This approach enabled us to measure both the microscopic viscosity and temperature [6] and monitor their temporal changes in real time. The talk will cover our recent developements of this technique.

[1] M. K. Kuimova, Phys Chem Chem Phys, 2012, 14, 12671

[2] M. K. Kuimova, G. Yahioglu, J. A. Levitt, K. Suhling, J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 6672

[3] M. K. Kuimova, et al, Nature Chem., 2009, 1, 69-73

[4] N. A. Hosny et al, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 2013, 110, 9225

[5] N. A. Hosny et al, Chem. Sci., 2016, 7, 1357

[6] A. Vyšniauskas, et al, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 5773



Marina K. Kuimova

Department of Chemistry

Imperial College London

Marina K. Kuimova graduated from Moscow State University in 2001 (MSc in Physical Chemistry) and obtained her PhD at the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Professor M. W. George in 2005. Following a postdoctoral appointment with Professor David Phillips at Imperial College London, she became a group leader and an EPSRC Life Science Interface Fellow (in 2007) and an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow (in 2010). She was appointed as a lecturer in the department of Chemistry at Imperial in 2012 and promoted to a Readership in 2016. Since 2009 MK was awarded several prizes and awards, including Roscoe Medal for Chemistry and the Westminster Medal at the ‘SET for Britain 2009’ (Houses of Parliament, UK), Grammaticakis-Neumann Prize of the Swiss Chemical Society (2011), British Biophysical Society Young Investigator Award (2012), Royal Society of Chemistry Harrison-Meldola Prize (2012), ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship (2013) and the IUPAP C6 Young Scientist Prize in Biological Physics (2014). She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2017.

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