Label-free cell-substrate adhesion imaging on plasmonic nanocup arrays

L. P. Hackett, S. Seo, S. Kim, L. L. Goddard, G. L. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell adhesion is a crucial biological and biomedical parameter defining cell differentiation, cell migration, cell survival, and state of disease. Because of its importance in cellular function, several tools have been developed in order to monitor cell adhesion in response to various biochemical and mechanical cues. However, there remains a need to monitor cell adhesion and cell-substrate separation with a method that allows real-time measurements on accessible equipment. In this article, we present a method to monitor cellsubstrate separation at the single cell level using a plasmonic extraordinary optical transmission substrate, which has a high sensitivity to refractive index changes at the metaldielectric interface. We show how refractive index changes can be detected using intensity peaks in color channel histograms from RGB images taken of the device surface with a brightfield microscope. This allows mapping of the nonuniform refractive index pattern of a single cell cultured on the plasmonic substrate and therefore high-throughput detection of cell-substrate adhesion with observations in real time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1151
Number of pages13
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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