Non-obstructive intracellular nanolasers
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Molecular dyes, plasmonic nanoparticles and colloidal quantum dots are widely used in biomedical optics. Their operation is usually governed by spontaneous processes, which results in broad spectral features and limited signal-to-noise ratio, thus restricting opportunities for spectral multiplexing and sensing. Lasers provide the ultimate spectral definition and background suppression, and their integration with cells has recently been demonstrated. However, laser size and threshold remain problematic. Here, we report on the design, high throughput fabrication and intracellular integration of semiconductor nanodisk lasers. By exploiting the large optical gain and high refractive index of GaInP/AlGaInP quantum wells, we obtain lasers with volumes 1000-fold smaller than the eukaryotic nucleus (Vlaser<0.1 µm3), lasing thresholds 500-fold below the pulse energies typically used in two-photon microscopy (Eth≈0.13 pJ), and excellent spectral stability (<50 pm wavelength shift). Multiplexed labelling with these lasers allows cell-tracking through micro-pores, thus providing a powerful tool to study cell migration and cancer invasion.
Fikouras , A , Schubert , M , Karl , M , Kumar , J D , Powis , S J , Di Falco , A & Gather , M C 2018 , ' Non-obstructive intracellular nanolasers ' , Nature Communications , vol. 9 , 4817 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07248-0
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DescriptionWe thank Liam O’Faolain (CIT, Ireland) for fruitful initial discussion, Andrew Morton for support with neuronal culture, and Gareth Miles for kind provision of neuronal tissue samples. This research was financially supported by the European Research Council under the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (FP/2014-2020)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 640012 (ABLASE), by EPSRC (EP/P030017/1, EP/L017008/1) and by the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust. AHF and MK acknowledge support through the EPSRC DTP (EP/M508214/1, EP/M506631/1). MS acknowledges funding by the European Commission (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, 659213) and the Royal Society (Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, DH160102)
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