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Department of Physics

Robert Szoszkiewicz

Robert SzoszkiewiczAssociate Professor
307 Cardwell Hall
(785) 532-0855
Group Webpage

Ph.D. Swiss Federal Inst of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2003
M.Sc. Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, 1999

Research Area

Soft and Biological Matter Physics

Our research is at the interface of biology, chemistry and physics.

We would like to address quantitatively issues spanning from mechanics and mechanochemical reactions of single molecules under force, up to mechanics of systems of biomolecules. On this front we plan to gain understanding of step-by-step formation of secondary and sub-secondary structural elements of polypeptides, and later potentially simple mono-domain proteins at the single molecule level. We expect to achieve our goals by (i) combining the state of the art atomic force microscope (AFM) with the state of the art interferometry and (ii) by using molecular biology in a careful design of the studied molecules and their mutants. We also initiated a collaborative project to address structural changes of single Notch protein constructs as a function of force applied by AFM. Notch is a protein involved in transmitting biochemical signals relevant to breast cancer and external mechanical force is necessary for such transmission. Thus, AFM might address molecular mechanisms of the Notch signal transmission.

We want as well to translate certain structure-functionality relations (and in particular those dwelling on cellular functionality) into man-made surfaces and devices, and to start with by working with the nanopatterned templates for controllable assembly of single molecules. Here, we are currently working on the dynamics of heat generated nanoripples on polymers. We also aim at producing nano-patterned polymer surfaces to be further dynamically and reversibly functionalized in order to yield surfaces with tunable hydrophilicity, adhesion and friction. We collaborate on these issues with several KSU chemists.

We specialize in atomic force microscopy (AFM). Currently, we have three AFMs: one home built high resolution AFM for single molecule force spectroscopy and two commercial ones.

Research Support

  • National Science Foundation
  • Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research

Recent Selected Publications

R. H. Rice, E. Gnecco, R. Wannemacher, and R. Szoszkiewicz, Velocity dependence of nano-abrasive wear of amorphous polymers obtained using a spiral scan pattern. Polymer 54(14) 3620-3623 (2013). [link]

R. Szoszkiewicz, Single-molecule studies of disulfide bond reduction pathways used by human thioredoxin. Biophysical Chemistry 173-174, 31-38 (2013). [link]

R. H. Rice, P. Mokarian-Tabari, W.P. King, and R. Szoszkiewicz, Local thermo-mechanical analysis of a microphase separated thin lamellar PS-b-PEO film. Langmuir 28, 13503 - 13511 (2012). [link]

A. Dey, R. Szoszkiewicz, Complete noise analysis of a force spectroscopy AFM setup and its applications to study nanomechanics of human Notch 1 protein. Nanotechnology 23, 175101 (2012). [link]

S. Garcia-Manyes, J. Liang, R. Szoszkiewicz, T.-L. Kuo, J. Fernandez. Force activated reactivity switch in a bimolecular chemical reaction. Nature Chemistry 1, 236 (2009). [link]