Optical Fluorescence Spectroscopy to Probe Nano-dynamics
20.12.17 - Congratulations to Valentin Flauraud and co-authors for their publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters "Optical Antenna-Based Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy to Probe the Nanoscale Dynamics of Biological Membranes".
The plasma membrane of living cells is compartmentalized at multiple spatial scales ranging from the nano- to the mesoscale. This nonrandom organization is crucial for a large number of cellular functions. At the nanoscale, cell membranes organize into dynamic nanoassemblies enriched by cholesterol, sphingolipids, and certain types of proteins. Investigating these nanoassemblies known as lipid rafts is of paramount interest in fundamental cell biology. However, this goal requires simultaneous nanometer spatial precision and microsecond temporal resolution, which is beyond the reach of common microscopes. Optical antennas based on metallic nanostructures efficiently enhance and confine light into nanometer dimensions, breaching the diffraction limit of light. In this Perspective, we discuss recent progress combining optical antennas with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to monitor microsecond dynamics at nanoscale spatial dimensions. These new developments offer numerous opportunities to investigate lipid and protein dynamics in both mimetic and native biological membranes.