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 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
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory