American Chemical Society
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Direct Observation of In-Focus Plasmonic Cargos via Breaking Angular Degeneracy in Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-02, 14:07 authored by Geun Wan Kim, Ji Won Ha
Breaking the angular degeneracy arising from the 2-fold optical symmetry of plasmonic anisotropic nanoprobes is critical in biological studies. In this study, we propose differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy-based focused orientation and position imaging (dFOPI) to break the angular degeneracy of single gold nanorods (AuNRs). Single in-focus AuNRs (39 nm × 123 nm) within a spherical mesoporous silica shell were characterized with high throughput and produced distinct doughnut-shaped DIC image patterns featuring two lobes in the peripheral region, attributed to the scattering contribution of the AuNRs with large scattering cross sections. Interestingly, rotation of the lobes was observed in the focal plane for a large AuNR (>100 nm) tilted by more than ∼20° from the horizontal plane as the rotational stage was moved by 10° in a rotational study. From the rotation-dependent characteristic patterns, we directly visualized counterclockwise/clockwise rotations without the angular degeneracy at the localized surface plasmon resonance wavelength. Therefore, our dFOPI method can be applied for in vivo studies of important biological systems. To validate this claim, we tracked the three-dimensional rotational behavior of transferrin-modified in-focus AuNRs during clathrin-mediated endocytosis in real time without sacrificing the temporal and spatial resolution. In the invagination and scission stage, one or two directed twist motions of the AuNR cargos detached the AuNR-containing vesicles from the cell membrane. Furthermore, the dFOPI method directly visualized and revealed the right-handed twisting action along the dynamin helix in dynamin-catalyzed fission in live cells.