Reconstructing Sub-Cellular Structure with Plasmonic Metamaterials The ability to resolve intracellular structure has opened new opportunities for deciphering complex chemical interactions, for relating the composition and organization of organelles to cellular processes, and for observing the infection of cells by viruses. This project describes how plasmonic metamaterials can resolve sub-cellular structure in three dimensions (3D), with sub-diffraction resolution, and without the use of fluorescent labels. These new types of metal nanostructures can be integrated with standard optical microscopes. Because the light that emerges from a metal film perforated with a finite number of nanoholes (a patch) is periodically modulated in 3D, these plasmonic metamaterials can be used for determining the structure of thick, transparent samples like cells. Unlike in conventional optics, where lenses are situated far from the object, these planar metallic lens structures can be constructed directly on glass coverslips. Hence, higher resolution can be achieved because the light does not disperse prior to or after impinging on the sample. We propose to investigate two classes of plasmonic structures for the label-free imaging of cells: (1) gold films perforated with microscale patches of nanoscale holes, which can achieve 3D imaging by deconstructing interference patterns from structured beams of light and (2) gold pyramidal particles, which can be used to identify the spatial locations of specific biomarkers within cells.
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