Interferometric quantitative imaging and nano-sensing of biological cells with nanoparticles
funded by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF)
With the development of engineered nanomaterials, new quantitative techniques for understanding the interactions of nanoparticles with biological cells are urgently needed. The project addresses two important aspects of using nanoparticles in the context of quantitative imaging of biological cells: To quantify the impact of nanoparticles on living cells and to use nanoparticles for achieving novel and unique quantitative imaging capabilities in live cells by interferometric phase microscopy (IPM). IPM is a quantitative optical microscopy and nano-sensing method that can capture the thickness and refractive-index of living cells in vitro without scanning and external labeling and in a non-destructive (minimally-invasive) manner. IPM provides access to various unique biophysical and biomechanical cell parameters. Both Israeli and German groups use IPM to characterize living cells. Using unique portable interferometric optical setups and novel analysis methods developed in each group, the resources are joint to develop novel label-free and minimally invasive nanotoxicity in vitro tests. These tests include motility tests by automated cell tracking, thickness and growth analysis, generalized morphological parameters, and detecting fast cellular fluctuations. Moreover, novel methods for interferometric imaging by using functionalized plasmonic nanoparticles that are photothermally excited for labeling targets inside cells and tissues are developed. These particles can be rapidly turned on and off for interferometric detection and will be explored as nanoscopic labels in cancer cells. The collaboration strengths the field of using nanoparticles in quantitative interferometric microscopy, contributes significantly to the understanding of cellular nanotoxicity and provides new approaches for diagnosis and monitoring of diseases.