Plasmonic imaging of subcellular electromechanical deformation in mammalian cells

Yunze Yang, Xianwei Liu, Shaopeng Wang, Nongjian Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A membrane potential change in cells is accompanied with mechanical deformation. This electromechanical response can play a significant role in regulating action potential in neurons and in controlling voltage-gated ion channels. However, measuring this subtle deformation in mammalian cells has been a difficult task. We show a plasmonic imaging method to image mechanical deformation in single cells upon a change in the membrane potential. Using this method, we have studied the electromechanical response in mammalian cells and have observed the local deformation within the cells that are associated with cell-substrate interactions. By analyzing frequency dependence of the response, we have further examined the electromechanical deformation in terms of mechanical properties of cytoplasm and cytoskeleton. We demonstrate a plasmonic imaging approach to quantify the electromechanical responses of single mammalian cells and determine local variability related to cell-substrate interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066007
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 30 2019


  • cell electromechanics
  • electromechanical coupling
  • electromechanical deformation
  • plasmonic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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