Scientists from the University of Texas at Arlington and MIT have developed a new technique to observe cellular processes quantitatively on a silicon chip. The technology will be useful for drug development, disease diagnosis etc. The study was reported in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports.
The research team said that the new technique overcame the limitations of microscopy in terms of quantifiablity. In the new technique, near-infrared light and a quantitative phase imaging were combined instead of staining techniques.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of quantitative phase imaging of cellular structure and function in silicon environment,” said Assistant Professor of Physics Samarendra Mohanty, head of the Biophysics and Physiology Laboratory at UT Arlington and corresponding author on the paper in a recent ScienceCodex article.
Researchers at UT Arlington/MIT analyzed specimens through silicon water and achieved two successes: they accomplished full-field imaging of the features of red blood cells to nanometer-thick accuracy, and they observed dynamic variation of human embryonic kidney cells in response to change of salt concentration. The technique is called non-invasive, label-free monitoring technique of neuronal activities.
“Silicon-based micro devices known as labs-on-a-chip are revolutionizing high throughput analysis of cells and molecules for disease diagnosis and screening of drug effects. However, very little progress has been made in the optical characterization of samples in these systems,” said Bipin Joshi, a recent graduate and lead author on the paper. “The technology we’ve developed is well-suited to meet this need.”