About Tom Perkins

My research focuses on single molecule measurements of biological systems. One outstanding question is: how do motor proteins transduce chemical energy into physical motion? Another is: how does the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins affect their functions? We specialize in developing and applying high precision measurements using optical traps and atomic force microscopes to answer these and other interesting questions.

The Measure of Small Things

Fellow Tom Perkins’ group is significantly closer to realizing its long-standing dream of using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to...

bR Phone Home

The groups of Fellow Adjoint Markus Raschke and Fellow Tom Perkins joined forces recently to shine light onto a bacterial membrane protein called bacteriorhodopsin (bR). They used a new infrared (IR) light imaging system with a spatial resolution and chemical sensitivity of just a few bR...

Torsionally constrained DNA for single molecule studies

Over the last 17 years, the ability to twist individual DNA molecules has led to many important results in the polymer physics of DNA and the mechanochemistry of enzymes that alter DNA’s topology. The key substrate for these studies is torsionally...

Routine and timely sub-picoNewton force stability and precision for biological applications of atomic force microscopy

A wide range of AFM-based assays for biophysics and nanoscience would benefit from improved force precision and stability. AFM in liquid is typically associated with force precision of about 5...

Dynamics and Multiple Strong Binding Modes of DNA Intercalators

DNA intercalators are widely used to fluorescently label DNA and as drugs in cancer therapy. Hence, these molecules have broad utility in basic research and clinical pharmacology. As a result, they have been the focus of extensive research and...

Ultrastable Atomic Force Microscopy

Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are widely used for characterization and manipulation of nanometer scale systems in air at room temperature or, in other words, ambient conditions. Yet, in these perturbative real-world conditions, uncontrolled drift between the microscope tip...

An interactive optical tweezers simulation for science education

Educational simulations (sims) can be highly engaging and effective tools for helping students learn science and math. However, they must be carefully developed and tested. Since 2002, the PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of...

Overstretching DNA does not require peeling

DNA’s extension increases by 70% in a narrow force window at 65 pN, a phenomena called 'over stretching'. The state of the DNA after overstretching has been controversial since the discovery of overstretching in 1996. One group of scientists advocate for S-DNA, where...

Highlighted Pub

Improved Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy Using Micromachined Cantilevers
M. S. Bull, Sullan, R. May A. , Li, H. , and Perkins, T. T. , Improved Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy Using Micromachined Cantilevers, ACS Nano, 2014.

View more on the Publications Page -->


Optical tweezers interactive figure.

The multimedia galleries have research photos, photos from around Colorado, simulations and more.

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Lab Opportunities

Post-doctoral Positions in Single Molecule Biophysics

Multiple post-doctoral positions are available in the Perkins Lab at JILA, which is located on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. These positions will span a range of instruments and applications.

Learn more on the Openings page -->

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