The focus of our research is the development of selective molecular probes to enable investigation of certain biological systems. Our interest in photonics is particularly related photochemical biology and the development of "caged" compounds. “Caged” compounds are biologically active molecules that have a photolabile protecting group attached to a significant functional group so as to render the molecule biologically inert. Their use is derived from the use of light to remove the protecting group and release the biologically active molecule. As only light is required to release the active molecule, this technique is particularly applicable to a biological setting. Photorelease of biologically active molecules is attractive as it affords enhanced spatial and temporal control over the administration of these compounds and this the activation / inhibition of their biological target.
My research is focused on rotary molecular motors, in particular the Bacterial Flagellar Motor, which is a rotary molecular engine powered by the flow of ions across the inner, or cytoplasmic, membrane of a bacterial cell envelope.