"Science of Rock 'n' Roll: Deciphering Motions in Live Cells"
Optical imaging is essential for precise visualization of the dynamics of biomolecules and nanoparticles because they require no contact and make minimal intrusion to the sample. The research in the Fang Laboratory is aimed to open up new frontiers in chemical and biological discovery through the development and use of novel optical imaging platforms, which provide excellent detectability, sub-diffraction-limited spatial resolution, high angular resolution, and/or nanometer localization precision for single molecules and nanoparticles. (1) Single Particle Orientation and Rotational Tracking (SPORT): The Fang Laboratory pioneers the efforts in developing the SPORT technique to visualize and understand rotational dynamics in or on live cells. The SPORT technique offers high spatial, angular, and temporal resolutions simultaneously for visualizing rotational motions of anisotropic plasmonic gold nanorods in complex cellular environments under differential interference contrast (DIC) microscope. Using SPORT, we are acquiring new knowledge on the fundamental models of microtubule-based intracellular transport and nanoparticle-based drug delivery vectors. (2) Super-Localization and Super-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy: An automated calibration and scanning-angle prism-type total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) has been constructed and tested for vertical resolution of less than 10 nm. This system is being employed for high precision 3D tracking of non-blinking quantum dots, super-resolution imaging of plant cells and tissues, and understanding catalytic reactions on nanocatalysts.