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.

Grabbing Proteins by the Tail

Cells are surrounded by a membrane containing carefully folded proteins. Those membrane proteins interact with the...

DNA imaging, ready in five minutes

It’s tricky to get a good look at DNA when it won’t stick to your slide, or lay down in a straight strand.

CU biochemist Tom Cech came to Tom Perkins’ atomic force microscopy lab with this very problem. His group was trying to understand how certain proteins interact...

Pulling HIV Apart

“It’s particularly small, unfolds at low forces and refolds fast… This is about as challenging as it can get.”

There are many molecules within the virus known as HIV, but only one is shaped like a hairpin. This molecule, aptly named the HIV RNA hairpin, allows the virus to create its...

Precision Biomechanics

The Perkins group has made dramatic advances in the use of Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) to study large single biomolecules, such...

Exquisitely sensitive experiment yields new view of membrane protein unfolding

The Perkins group continues to extend the performance of its unique Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) technology,...

Thomas Perkins: Atomic force microscopy measures properties of proteins and protein folding

Tom Perkins discusses his atomic force spectroscopy research in this SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics)...

The Land of Enhancement: AFM Spectroscopy

The Perkins Group has demonstrated a 50-to-100 times improvement in the time resolution for studying the details...

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...

Highlighted Pub

Quantifying the Native Energetics Stabilizing Bacteriorhodopsin by Single-Molecule Force Spectroscopy
H. Yu, Jacobson, D. R. , Luo, H. , and Perkins, T. T. , “Quantifying the Native Energetics Stabilizing Bacteriorhodopsin by Single-Molecule Force Spectroscopy”, Physical Review Letters, vol. 125, no. 6, 2020.

View more on the Publications Page -->


Optical tweezers interactive figure.

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

View the latest images in the Multimedia Galleries -->

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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