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Loïc Laplatine

Spatial resolution of prism-based surface plasmon resonance microscopy

Published on 27 November 2014
Thesis presented November 27, 2014

Prism-based surface plasmon resonance (SPR) microscopy is an optical imaging technique invented in the late 60s'. Its main advantage lies in its high sensitivity to optical index or thickness variations at a metal surface. Therefore, the monitoring of biological reactions can be performed in real-time without labeling agent such as fluorescence or enzymes. Over the last 30 years, SPR microscopy has become the major technique in label-free biodetection. The field of application range from the determination of affinity constant in biochemistry to the detection of pathogenic bacteria via cellular biology. Until now, the propagation length of the surface plasmons has been considered as the spatial resolution limit. However, many examples do not support this statement. In this PhD thesis, we demonstrate that the resolution is also limited by optical aberrations induced by the prism used to couple light and surface plasmons. Thus, we are able to explain why the experimental resolution was usually worse than the predicted one. The analysis of the image formation and the quantification of aberrations lead us to suggest two new optical configurations optimized for resolution. We also analyze which metal exhibits the better trade-off between propagation length and sensitivity. Experimentally, we obtain a resolution between 1.5 and 4 μm depending on the direction, on field-of-view up to several mm2, and with a standard sensitivity for biodetection (monolayer of DNA). We are then able to observe simultaneously several thousands of individual eukaryote and prokaryote cells. Finally, we develop a prototype dedicated to the real-time monitoring of protein secretion by immune cells. The limits of SPR microscopy and the solutions which could allow this kind of study are discussed. Preliminary results on the improvement of bacterial detection are also presented.

Single cell analysis, Biochip, SPRi

On-line thesis.