Mass-Sensing Nanostructure-enhanced Laser Tweezers
National Science Foundation
09/01/2014 - 08/31/2017
The size and mass of a cell convey important physiological properties that are closely regulated by various environmental and genetic factors. In particular, cells undergo multiplication, differentiation and transformation. During these time-dependent processes, the cell mass is affected by the synthesis and accumulation of proteins, replication of DNA, and other large molecules and organelles inside the cell. Therefore, monitoring size and mass of single cells over time can provide important physiological information and has potential impact in cell biology, tissue engineering, cancer and disease research. We propose nanostructure-enhanced laser tweezers (NELT) combined with a micro-electromechanical-system (MEMS) resonator array to simultaneously achieve the following functions: (1) Measuring mass of a cell versus time with high accuracy. (2) Optical imaging of an array of cells as a function of time to obtain size and other information on cell status. (3) Suitable for both adherent and non-adherent cells.