Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > A single cell endoscope: Berkeley Lab researchers use nanophotonics for optical look inside living cells

This schematic depicts the subcellular imaging of quantum dots in a living cell using a nanowire endoscope.

Credit: (Courtesy of Berkeley Lab)
This schematic depicts the subcellular imaging of quantum dots in a living cell using a nanowire endoscope.

Credit: (Courtesy of Berkeley Lab)

Abstract:
An endoscope that can provide high-resolution optical images of the interior of a single living cell, or precisely deliver genes, proteins, therapeutic drugs or other cargo without injuring or damaging the cell, has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). This highly versatile and mechanically robust nanowire-based optical probe can also be applied to biosensing and single-cell electrophysiology.

A single cell endoscope: Berkeley Lab researchers use nanophotonics for optical look inside living cells

Berkeley, CA | Posted on December 20th, 2011

A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley attached a tin oxide nanowire waveguide to the tapered end of an optical fibre to create a novel endoscope system. Light travelling along the optical fibre can be effectively coupled into the nanowire where it is re-emitted into free space when it reaches the tip. The nanowire tip is extremely flexible due to its small size and high aspect ratio, yet can endure repeated bending and buckling so that it can be used multiple times.

"By combining the advantages of nanowire waveguides and fibre-optic fluorescence imaging, we can manipulate light at the nanoscale inside living cells for studying biological processes within single living cells with high spatial and temporal resolution," says Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division, who led this research. "We've shown that our nanowire-based endoscope can also detect optical signals from subcellular regions and, through light-activated mechanisms, can deliver payloads into cells with spatial and temporal specificity."

Yang, who also holds appointments with the University of California Berkeley's Chemistry Department and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the corresponding author of a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology describing this work titled "Nanowire-based single-cell endoscopy." Co-authoring the paper were Ruoxue Yan, Ji-Ho Park, Yeonho Choi, Chul-Joon Heo, Seung-Man Yang and Luke Lee.

Despite significant advancements in electron and scanning probe microscopy, visible light microscopy remains the workhorse for the study of biological cells. Because cells are optically transparent, they can be noninvasively imaged with visible light in three-dimensions. Also, visible light allows the fluorescent tagging and detection of cellular constituents, such as proteins, nucleic acids and lipids. The one drawback to visible light imaging in biology has been the diffraction barrier, which prevents visible light from resolving structures smaller than half the wavelength of the incident light. Recent breakthroughs in nanophotonics have made it possible to overcome this barrier and bring subcellular components into view with optical imaging systems. However, such systems are complex, expensive and, oddly enough, bulky in size.

"Previously, we had shown that subwavelength dielectric nanowire waveguides can efficiently shuttle ultraviolet and visible light in air and fluidic media," Yang says. "By incorporating one of our nanophotonic components into a simple, low-cost, bench-top fibre-optical set-up, we were able to miniaturize our endoscopic system."

To test their nanowire endoscope as a local light source for subcellular imaging, Yang and his co-authors optically coupled it to an excitation laser then waveguided blue light across the membrane and into the interiors of individual HeLa cells, the most commonly used immortalized human cell line for scientific research.

"The optical output from the endoscope emission was closely confined to the nanowire tip and thereby offered highly directional and localized illumination," Yang says. "The insertion of our tin oxide nanowire into the cell cytoplasm or membrane rupture. Moreover, illuminating the intracellular environment of HeLa cells with blue light using the nanoprobe did not harm the cells because the illumination volume was so small, down to the picolitre-scale."

Having demonstrated the biocompatibility of their nanowire endoscope, Yang and his co-authors next tested its capabilities for delivering payloads to specific sites inside a cell. While carbon and boron nitride nanotube-based single-cell delivery systems have been reported, these systems suffer from delivery times that range from 20-to-30 minutes, plus a lack of temporal control over the delivery process. To overcome these limitations, Yang and his co-authors attached quantum dots to the tin oxide nanowire tip of their endoscope using photo-activated linkers that can be cleaved by low-power ultraviolet radiation. Within one minute, their functionalized nanowire endoscope was able to release its quantum dot cargo into the targeted intracellular sites.

"Confocal microscopy scanning of the cell confirmed that the quantum dots were successfully delivered past the fluorescently labeled membrane and into the cytoplasm," Yang says. "Photoactivation to release the dots had no significant effect on cell viability."

The highly directional blue laser light was used to excite one of two quantum dot clusters that were located only two micrometers apart. With the tight illumination area and small separation between the light source and the dots, low background fluorescence and high imaging contrast were ensured.

"In the future, in addition to optical imaging and cargo delivery, we could also use this nanowire endoscope to electrically or optically stimulate a living cell," Yang says.

The nanowires used in these experiments were originally developed to study size-dependent novel electronic and optical properties for energy applications.

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science and a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

####

About Berkeley Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.energy.gov.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lynn Yarris

510-486-5375

Copyright © Berkeley Lab

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Laboratories

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

News and information

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Imaging

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Safe and inexpensive hydrogen production as a future energy source: Osaka University researchers develop efficient 'green' hydrogen production system that operates at room temperature in air December 21st, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Chemistry on the edge: Experiments at Berkeley Lab confirm that structural defects at the periphery are key in catalyst function January 13th, 2017

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Discoveries

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Announcements

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Tools

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Nanomechanics Inc. Continues Growth in Revenue and Market Penetration: Leading nanoindentation company reports continued growth in revenues and distribution channels on national and international scales December 27th, 2016

Nanometrics to Present at the 19th Annual Needham Growth Conference December 22nd, 2016

Safe and inexpensive hydrogen production as a future energy source: Osaka University researchers develop efficient 'green' hydrogen production system that operates at room temperature in air December 21st, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

Carbon dots dash toward 'green' recycling role: Rice scientists, colleagues use doped graphene quantum dots to reduce carbon dioxide to fuel December 18th, 2016

Two electrons go on a quantum walk and end up in a qudit: Russian scientists find a way to reliably connect quantum elements December 13th, 2016

Trickling electrons: Close to absolute zero, the particles exhibit their quantum nature November 10th, 2016

Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials September 6th, 2016

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Researcher's discovery of new crystal structure holds promise for optoelectronic devices January 6th, 2017

The researchers created a tiny laser using nanoparticles January 5th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project