Plasmonic scattering imaging of single proteins and binding kinetics

Pengfei Zhang, Guangzhong Ma, Wei Dong, Zijian Wan, Shaopeng Wang, Nongjian Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Measuring the binding kinetics of single proteins represents one of the most important and challenging tasks in protein analysis. Here we show that this is possible using a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) scattering technique. SPR is a popular label-free detection technology because of its extraordinary sensitivity, but it has never been used for imaging single proteins. We overcome this limitation by imaging scattering of surface plasmonic waves by proteins. This allows us to image single proteins, measure their sizes and identify them based on their specific binding to antibodies. We further show that it is possible to quantify protein binding kinetics by counting the binding of individual molecules, providing a digital method to measure binding kinetics and analyze heterogeneity of protein behavior. We anticipate that this imaging method will become an important tool for single protein analysis, especially for low volume samples, such as single cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1010-1017
Number of pages8
JournalNature Methods
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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