Biophysics Specialization



Nanophysics specialization



Period:  Second semester (february-april)

ECTS:  4

Course contents:

Topic 1.- Self-assembled structures: biomembranes and cytoskeletal proteins

1.1 Introduction. General description of biological membranes. Membrane model systems: LUVS, SUVS, MLVS, GUVS, Langmuir monolayers, supported membranes
1.2 Physical properties of phospholipids. Solubility. Saturation. Charge. Morphology. Transition temperature. Sphingolipids. Glycolipids.
1.3.- Physical properties of membranes. Phase transitions. Dynamic properties. Lateral Diffusion. Mechanical properties.
1.4.- Permeability and electrical properties. Membrane potential. Surface potential. Nernst Potential.
1.5.- Cytoskeletal proteins. Structural and dynamic properties. Studies in reconstituted systems. Collective properties.


1.- To know the composition of biological membranes
2. – To know the basic characteristics of phospholipids ( morphology, solubility, charge, transition temperature) and their effects on the physical properties of membranes.
3.-To know the different preparation methods of membrane model systems.
4.- To know the different phases in which lipids can be found in biological membranes and the importance of phase transitions in membrane processes.
5. – To know how the physical properties of membranes are related to their biological function.
6. – To know how cytoskeletal proteins self-aggregate and how their properties affect their biological function.


Topic 2.- Bioenergetics
2.1 Introduction.  General concepts. Quantitative bioenergetics:  how to measure the driving forces. Chemiosmotic theory. Oxidation-reduction potentials. Long range electron trasfer in proteins
2.2 Photosynthesis.  Relevant steps: light absorption, charge separation, proton gradient. Structural basis of photosynthetic light harvesting systems
2.3 Respiratory chain. Main constituents. Structure and function of ATPases.
2.4 Hydrogenases. Their role in microbial bioenergetics.


1. – To know the main biological processes that living organisms used to generate useful energy: respiration and photosynthesis.
2. – To know the main concepts underlying the chemiosmotic theory. How proton gradients are generated and how they are converted into work to synthesize ATP.
3. – To know the meaning of proton motive force and how it is expressed in terms of pH and membrane potential
4. – To know the main driving forces responsible for electron transfer and proton transfer along the electron transport chains.
5. – To know how the most important steps in photosynthesis take place: light absorption, charge separation and generation of proton gradients.
6.To know how ATPase machine works.


Topic 3.- Advanced seminars


3.1.- Molecular Biophysics of nano-machines
3.2. – Protein engineering


Bioenergetics3. David Nicholls and Stuart J Ferguson Academic Press 2001
Biological Thermodynamics. Donald T. Haynie Cambridge University Press 2001
Physical Biology of the Cell. Rob Phillips,Jane Kondev, Julie Theriot, Garland Science 2009
Mechanics of the cell. David Boal (Cambridge University Press)



Coordinator : Marisela Vélez Tirado


More info on the course official guide (Guía docente)