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Nano Lett. 2009 Feb;9(2):519-24. doi: 10.1021/nl801891q.

Optical detection of brain cell activity using plasmonic gold nanoparticles.

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Department of Physics, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Metal nanoparticles are being actively explored for applications that use localized surface plasmon (LSP) resonance for optical sensing. Here we report an electrostatic field sensing technique which has been applied to detection of mammalian brain cell activity, by optically measuring the cellular potential induced shift in the SP resonance mode of an adjacent planar gold nanoparticle array. An experimental scheme was first devised which enables a quantitative calibration of the field-induced plasmon resonance modulation in air. Hippocampal (brain) neural cells were then grown onto the nanoparticle template and cellular level individual transient signals were detected optically when the chemically triggered neurons switched their potential. Experimental data are compared with calculations using the Drude model for the dielectric response of gold and the Stern model for the metal-electrolyte junction, with good agreement.

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