Interferometric reflectance microscopy for physical and chemical characterization of biological nanoparticles
MetadataShow full item record
Biological nanoparticles have enormous utility as well as potential adverse impacts in biotechnology, human health, and medicine. The physical and chemical properties of these nanoparticles have strong implications on their distribution, circulation, and clearance in vivo. Accurate morphological visualization and chemical characterization of nanoparticles by label-free (direct) optical microscopy would provide valuable insights into their natural and intrinsic properties. However, three major challenges related to label-free nanoparticle imaging must be overcome: (i) weak contrast due to exceptionally small size and low-refractive-index difference with the surrounding medium, (ii) inadequate spatial resolution to discern nanoscale features, and (iii) lack of chemical specificity. Advances in common-path interferometric microscopy have successfully overcome the weak contrast limitation and enabled direct detection of low-index biological nanoparticles down to single proteins. However, interferometric light microscopy does not overcome the diffraction limit, and studying the nanoparticle morphology at sub-wavelength spatial resolution remains a significant challenge. Moreover, chemical signature and composition are inaccessible in these interferometric optical measurements. This dissertation explores innovations in common-path interferometric microscopy to provide enhanced spatial resolution and chemical specificity in high-throughput imaging of individual nanoparticles. The dissertation research effort focuses on a particular modality of interferometric imaging, termed “single-particle interferometric reflectance (SPIR) microscopy”, that uses an oxide-coated silicon substrate for enhanced coherent detection of the weakly scattered light. We seek to advance three specific aspects of SPIR microscopy: sensitivity, spatial resolution, and chemical specificity. The first one is to enhance particle visibility via novel optical and computational methods that push optical detection sensitivity. The second one is to improve the lateral resolution beyond the system's classical limit by a new computational imaging method with an engineered illumination function that accesses high-resolution spatial information at the nanoscale. The last one is to extract a distinctive chemical signature by probing the mid-infrared absorption-induced photothermal effect. To realize these goals, we introduce new theoretical models and experimental concepts. This dissertation makes the following four major contributions in the wide-field common-path interferometric microscopy field: (1) formulating vectorial-optics based linear forward model that describes interferometric light scattering near planar interfaces in the quasi-static limit, (2) developing computationally efficient image reconstruction methods from defocus images to detect a single 25 nm dielectric nanoparticle, (3) developing asymmetric illumination based computational microscopy methods to achieve direct morphological visualization of nanoparticles at 150 nm, and (4) developing bond-selective interferometric microscopy to enable multispectral chemical imaging of sub-wavelength nanoparticles in the vibrational fingerprint region. Collectively, through these research projects, we demonstrate significant advancement in the wide-field common-path interferometric microscopy field to achieve high-resolution and accurate visualization and chemical characterization of a broad size range of individual biological nanoparticles with high sensitivity.
RightsAttribution 4.0 International