Biophysics @ AMOLF Amsterdam

The Tans Lab

The Tans Lab

Biophysics @ AMOLF Amsterdam

The Tans Lab

Biophysics @ AMOLF Amsterdam

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Trigger factor

We study the dynamics of single proteins and cells using novel experimental approaches.

2021 started well for Florian with a beautiful paper in Science about ribosome-driven assembly of protein complexes.

We congratulate Mario with his paper in Nature on protein disaggregation that was published in 2020. Also check out the movie we made about it.

Another exciting Nature publication from our lab appeared in 2020 about how motility can drive bacterial coexistence. Here is a link to the press release.


At the molecular level, we use optical tweezers and single-molecule fluorescence to study how chaperones fold amino-acid chains into functional proteins, and more recently to probe the role of ribosomes and translation.

At the cellular level, we use time-lapse microscopy and image analysis to understand how multi-cellular systems self-organise, with a specific recent interest in organoids.

The group is based at the AMOLF institute in Amsterdam, and is part of the Living Matter initiative. It is headed by Sander Tans, who is also affiliated with Delft University of Technology, and the Kavli institute of Nanoscience

If you are interested in joining our team, send us an e-mail to


How can one protein fold another?

This intriguing question underlies all biological activity, and numerous ageing-related diseases. Recent technical breakthroughs are now making it possible to address it, by directly following the movements and forces of single protein chains within a chaperone complex.

We have pioneered the use of optical tweezers to study these dynamics of individual protein-chaperone complexes, and are currently exploiting a new range of possibilities afforded by simultaneous single-molecule fluorescence.

Key publications

How do cells control themselves?

We focus on a few aspects of this fascinating question that lies at the heart of life itself. Specifically, we study the control of cellular size and growth, how control networks evolve, and have started a new effort in spatial and differentiation control in mini-organs, or organoids. Mirroring our molecular work, we have developed new approaches to reveal the dynamics of these properties in space and time.

Key publications

Past research topics include single-molecule studies on DNA packaging by bacterial viruses, and carbon nanotube-based electronics.