Plasmonic Scanning Probes for Controlled Genetic Perturbation and Imaging

Sponsored by: NSF NER award, NSF CAREER award and NSF CMMI award.

The goal of this research is to integrate nanophotonics with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to understand the regulation of gene expression under controlled perturbations. We are developing a uniquely integrated sub-cellular scale surgery, force sensing and in vivo microscopy technology that are broadly applicable across a wide range of molecular dynamics studies in live cells and embryos. The technique’s capabilities will be demonstrated by studying the dynamic structure-function relationship of live Drosophia embryos as it responses to local environmental perturbation. In the preliminary studies, we have successfully developed the in-vivo force characterization and self-assembly tools critical for the success of the miniaturized RNA interference (RNAi) injection.  Our laboratory has invented several unique methods to characterize multiscale biology interfaces using silicon photonic sensors on probe. Our efforts to provide massively parallel micrograting embedded cantilevers for force measurement on self-assembled cells may potentially lead to significant breakthroughs in genetic studies.