Prof. dr. Sander Tans

Research Theme(s): Single-Molecule Biophysics


Sander Tans obtained his PhD degree from Delft University of Technology in 1998. After a brief position at IBM, he continued as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. Since 2002 he is based at the AMOLF institute in Amsterdam, where he heads the biophysics research group. In 2009 he was appointed professor in molecular and cellular biophysics at Delft University of Technology, within the department of Bionanoscience and the Kavli institute of Nanoscience.

His research is currently focused on single molecule and single cell biophysics, and was initially concentrated on nanotechnology and solid-state physics. He has pioneered the use of carbon nanotubes as electronic devices, establishing the first carbon nanotube wire and transistor. Using novel single-molecule biophysics approaches, he discovered how various chaperones fold protein chains, and suppress the protein aggregation that underlies numerous ageing related pathologies. This work is currently extended to visualize chaperone-ribosome interactions and (ubiquitin mediated) protein degradation. He developed various approaches to reveal various cellular growth phenomena, ranging from stochasticity in metabolic networks to spatial competition between bacterial strains, and is increasingly focused on cellular dynamics within organoid systems. His work has appeared in a range of journals including Nature and Science (14 papers)

Highlight Publications

1. Bacterial coexistence driven by motility and spatial competition

Sebastian Gude et al.,

Nature 578, 588-592


2. Processive extrusion of polypeptide loops by a Hsp100 disaggregase

Mario Avellaneda et al.,

Nature 578, 317-320


3. Alternative modes of client binding enable functional plasticity of Hsp70

Alireza Mashaghi et al.,

Nature 539, 448-451


4. Stochasticity of metabolism and growth at the single-cell level

Daniel J. Kiviet et al.,

Nature 514, 376-379


5. Direct Observation of Chaperone-Induced Changes in a Protein Folding Pathway

Philipp Bechtluft, Ruud van Leeuwen et al.,

Science 318:1458-1461


6. Room-temperature transistor based on a single carbon nanotube

Sander J. Tans et al.,

Nature 393:49-52


7. Individual single-wall carbon nanotubes as quantum wires

Sander J. Tans et al.,

Nature 386:474-77


Affiliated Professor

Sander Tans

Management Assistant