PhD thesis in Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry


Lateral Diffusion and Correlation of Membrane Anchored Proteins in Various Length Scales


Prof. Motomu Tanaka, Biophys. Chem. II and BIOQUANT, Univ. Heidelberg

Prof. Markus Engstler, Microbiology and Genetics, TU Darmstadt

Plasma membranes in nature can generally be considered as (quasi) two-dimensional fluid matrix. The primary goals of the project are to quantitatively determine (i) the lateral diffusion of membrane-anchored proteins (either native GPI-anchored or transmembrane proteins or engineered recombinant proteins docking to the membrane surface) and (ii) the lateral correlations of membrane proteins with/without external fields, e.g. hydrodynamic shear fields or tangential electric fields. Within the graduate course GRK 1114 “Optical Techniques for Measurement of Interfacial Transport Phenomena, we currently work on variant surface glycoproteins from trypanosomes.


The lateral diffusion of proteins in the length scales of some tens of nm up to some tens of µm can be tracked by the single molecule tracking setup developed in the Heidelberg lab, while the lateral correlation of proteins can be determined by the grazing-incidence small angle x-ray/neutron scattering technique with a micro-focused beam. X-ray/neutron scattering experiments will be conducted at large facilities such as European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble), HASYLAB at DESY (Hamburg), Research Reactor II (Munich), and Institute Laue-Langevin (Grenoble).


Two positions are available: one immediately (HD) and another in May (DA). The applicant for Tanaka Lab is supposed to possess basic knowledge in physics or physical chemistry, preferably with some training in biological sciences.


If you have interests, please contact:


Prof. M. Tanaka (

Prof. Markus Engstler (

Dipl.-Phys. Thomas Schubert (

Dr. Nicola Jones (




O. Purrucker, A. Förtig, R. Jordan, E. Sackmann, M. Tanaka, Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 078102 (2007)

M. Tanaka, J. Hermann, I. Haase, M. Fischer, S.G. Boxer, Langmuir, 23, 5638 (2007)

M. Engstler, T. Pfohl, S. Herminghaus, M. Boshart, G. Wiegertjes, N. Heddergott, P. Overath, Cell, 131, 505 (2007)