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Lasing within Live Cells Containing Intracellular Optical Microresonators for Barcode-Type Cell Tagging and Tracking

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posted on 12.08.2015, 00:00 by Marcel Schubert, Anja Steude, Philipp Liehm, Nils M. Kronenberg, Markus Karl, Elaine C. Campbell, Simon J. Powis, Malte C. Gather
We report on a laser that is fully embedded within a single live cell. By harnessing natural endocytosis of the cell, we introduce a fluorescent whispering gallery mode (WGM) microresonator into the cell cytoplasm. On pumping with nanojoule light pulses, green laser emission is generated inside the cells. Our approach can be applied to different cell types, and cells with microresonators remain viable for weeks under standard conditions. The characteristics of the lasing spectrum provide each cell with a barcode-type label which enables uniquely identifying and tracking individual migrating cells. Self-sustained lasing from cells paves the way to new forms of cell tracking, intracellular sensing, and adaptive imaging.