Xiao Chen, Ce-Belle Chen, C.N.B. Udalagama
Apr 2, 2013
Increasing interest in the use of nanoparticles (NPs) to elucidate the function of nanometer-sized assemblies of macromolecules and organelles within cells, and to develop biomedical applications such as drug delivery, labeling, diagnostic sensing, and heat treatment of cancer cells has prompted investigations into novel techniques that can image NPs within whole cells and tissue at high resolution. Using fast ions focused to nanodimensions, we show that gold NPs (AuNPs) inside whole cells can be imaged at high resolution, and the precise location of the particles and the number of particles can be quantified. High-resolution density information of the cell can be generated using scanning transmission ion microscopy, enhanced contrast for AuNPs can be achieved using forward scattering transmission ion microscopy, and depth information can be generated from elastically backscattered ions (Rutherford backscattering spectrometry). These techniques and associated instrumentation are at an early stage of technical development, but we believe there are no physical constraints that will prevent whole-cell three-dimensional imaging at <10 nm resolution.