Multispectral plasmon coupling microscopy and its application in bio-imaging
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A broad range of cellular activities, including receptor mediated endocytosis, signaling and receptor clustering, involve multi-body interactions between different cellular functionalities. Many of these interactions are dynamic in nature, making optical tools the method of choice for their investigation. Conventional optical microscopy has a resolution about 300nm, limited by the diffraction of light, which is insufficient to explore processes that occur on nanometer or tens of nanometer length scales. The aim of this thesis is to develop and validate a plasmon coupling microscopy (PCM), which utilizes the distance dependent spectral properties of coupled noble metal nanoparticles (NPs) to resolve distance changes between NP labels on deeply sub-diffraction length scales. This colorimetric approach is augmented with a polarization sensitive analysis of the scattered light of individual dimers to monitor simultaneously distance and orientation changes. The distance dependent polarization anisotropy in discrete dimers is investigated experimentally and theoretically. The performed analysis reveals that the polarization anisotropy is robust even against relatively large refractive index changes. The polarization sensitive PCM is then applied to characterize the lateral spatial organization of mammalian plasma membranes by analyzing the translational and rotational motion as well as the extension of discrete NP dimers during their diffusion on lysed Hela cell membranes. The membrane is found to be compartmentalized with typical domain sizes on the order of 70nm. The functionality of plasmon coupling based imaging method is expanded further by developing a multispectral imaging modality for a quantitative analysis of the plasmon coupling between many noble metal immunolabels in a large field of view simultaneously. This approach provides information about the spatial organization of the silver nanoparticle labels and thus of targeted EGF receptor densities on the surface of epidermoid carcinoma cells (A431). Finally, multispectral plasmon coupling microscopy is applied to investigate the uptake and subsequent intracellular spatial distribution of silver nanoparticles in murine macrophage cells (J774A.1). The studies reveal that NP uptake is mediated by scavenger receptors and that the intracellular NP association and distribution are heterogeneous among cells in a cellular ensemble. The heterogeneity is demonstrated to be correlated with the maturation status of the macrophages.
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