Plasmonic Detection of Bioelectrical signals
This project investigates the utilisation of surface plasmon resonance as a voltage sensor for biological applications. Electrical signals are used by cells to communicate with each others, creating a coherent higher level function. For instance, information processing in the nervous system is mediated by electrical signals. Also, the function of the different types of muscle cells is controlled by electrical excitation. Accurate and reliable measurements of these signals at the cell level provides valuable in-vitro models for physiological and pharmacological investigations. Unlike the popular fluorescent and micro-electrode techniques, surface plasmon resonance is a label-free, non-invasive way to measure localized signals at the cell-substrate interface.
The project aims to approach the problem from two aspects: (i) what is the voltage detection limit of the SPR (i.e. Smallest detectable signal)? (ii) What is the response time of the sensor to voltage excitation?. Answering these questions will shed the light on the possibility of using SPR to sense the fast and small-amplitude electrical activity of the electrogentic cells.