Optical microcavities and microlasers were recently introduced as probes inside living cells and tissues. Their main advantages are spectrally narrow emission lines and high sensitivity to the environment. Despite numerous novel methods for optical imaging in strongly scattering biological tissues, imaging at single-cell resolution beyond the ballistic light transport regime remains very challenging. Here, we show that optical microcavity probes embedded inside cells enable three-dimensional localization and tracking of individual cells over extended time periods, as well as sensing of their environment, at depths well beyond the light transport length. This is achieved by utilizing unique spectral features of the whispering-gallery modes, which are unaffected by tissue scattering, absorption, and autofluorescence. In addition, microcavities can be functionalized for simultaneous sensing of various parameters, such as temperature or pH value, which extends their versatility beyond the capabilities of standard fluorescent labels.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemie (insg.)
- Biochemie, Genetik und Molekularbiologie (insg.)
- Physik und Astronomie (insg.)
Fields of Expertise
- Advanced Materials Science