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      Label-free imaging of fibroblast membrane interfaces and protein signatures with vibrational infrared photothermal and phase signals

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          Label-free vibrational imaging of biological samples has attracted significant interest due to its integration of structural and chemical information. Vibrational infrared photothermal amplitude and phase signal (VIPPS) imaging provide label-free chemical identification by targeting the characteristic resonances of biological compounds that are present in the mid-infrared fingerprint region (3 µm - 12 µm). High contrast imaging of subcellular features and chemical identification of protein secondary structures in unlabeled and labeled fibroblast cells embedded in a collagen-rich extracellular matrix is demonstrated by combining contrast from absorption signatures (amplitude signals) with sensitive detection of different heat properties (lock-in phase signals). We present that the detectability of nano-sized cell membranes is enhanced to well below the optical diffraction limit since the membranes are found to act as thermal barriers. VIPPS offers a novel combination of chemical imaging and thermal diffusion characterization that paves the way towards label-free imaging of cell models and tissues as well as the study of intracellular heat dynamics.

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          Author and article information

          Biomed Opt Express
          Biomed Opt Express
          Biomedical Optics Express
          Optical Society of America
          14 December 2020
          01 January 2021
          : 12
          : 1
          : 303-319
          [1 ]Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
          [2 ]Photonics Center, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
          [3 ]Bioengineering Research Group Engineering and Technology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
          [4 ]Biomedical Manufacturing, CSIRO Manufacturing, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
          [5 ]Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
          [6 ]Biological Design Center, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
          [7 ]Department of Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
          [8 ]Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Boston University, Brookline, MA 02446, USA
          Author notes
          PMC7818956 PMC7818956 7818956 411888
          © 2020 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement
          Funded by: National Science Foundation 10.13039/100000001
          Award ID: NSF ECCS-1846659
          Funded by: Air Force Office of Scientific Research 10.13039/100000181
          Award ID: FA9550-19-1-0323
          Funded by: National Institutes of Health 10.13039/100000002
          Award ID: NIGMS R35 GM133616
          Funded by: Australian National Fabrication Facility 10.13039/100008015
          Funded by: CSIRO Research+ Science Leader Progran
          Funded by: CSIRO ECR (CERC) Program
          Funded by: ECR
          Funded by: Burroughs Wellcome Fund 10.13039/100000861
          Funded by: Boston University Cross-Disciplinary PhD Fellowship
          Funded by: Nanotechnology Innovation Center, Boston University
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