Stanford Scientists Fit Light-Emitting Bioprobe in a Single Cell
Stanford researchers are the first to demonstrate that sophisticated light resonators can be inserted inside living cells without damage to the cell. The development marks a new age in which tiny lasers and light-emitting diodes yield new avenues in the study of living cells.This image shows a photonic nanobeam inserted in a cell. Clearly visible are the etched holes through the beam as well as the sandwich-like layer structure of the beam itself. The beam structure alternates between layers of gallium arsenide and photonic crystal containing the light-producing quantum dots. (Photo: Gary Shambat, Stanford School of Engineering)
If engineers at Stanford have their way, biological research may soon be transformed by a new class of light-emitting probes small enough to be injected into individual cells without harm to the host.
Welcome to biophotonics, a discipline at the confluence of engineering, biology and medicine in which light-based devices - lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) - are opening up new avenues in the study and influence of living cells.
The team described their probe in a paper published online Feb. 13 by the journal Nano Letters. It is the first study to demonstrate that tiny, sophisticated devices known as light resonators can be inserted inside cells without damaging the cell. Even with a resonator embedded inside, a cell is able to function, migrate and reproduce as normal.