Focal adhesions are critical cell membrane components that regulate adhesion and migration and have cluster dimensions that correlate closely with adhesion engagement and migration speed. We utilized a label-free approach for dynamic, long-term, quantitative imaging of cell-surface interactions called photonic resonator outcoupler microscopy (PROM) in which membrane-associated protein aggregates outcoupled photons from the resonant evanescent field of a photonic crystal biosensor, resulting in a highly localized reduction of the reflected light intensity. By mapping the changes in the resonant reflected peak intensity from the biosensor surface, we demonstrate the ability of PROM to detect focal adhesion dimensions. Similar spatial distributions can be observed between PROM images and fluorescence-labeled images of focal adhesion areas in dental epithelial stem cells. In particular, we demonstrate that cell-surface contacts and focal adhesion formation can be imaged by two orthogonal label-free modalities in PROM simultaneously, providing a general-purpose tool for kinetic, high axial-resolution monitoring of cell interactions with basement membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7538
JournalLight: Science and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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