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The University of Southampton
Chemistry

Research project: Mahajan: Tracking molecules inside cells using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

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Low sensitivity and little chemical information, apart from other limitations of current techniques, are the bane of many biological studies and hamper our understanding of natural phenomena.

Through the application of techniques such as surface-enhanced fluorescence (SEF) and surface-enhanced (resonant) Raman scattering (SE(R)RS) these bottlenecks can be overcome. The enhancement can be achieved by employing special designer surfaces or nanoparticles of appropriate size, which act as antennae which trap impinging light and funnel it into molecules near the surface. This results in enhanced spectroscopic signals both in fluorescence (SEF) and Raman (SE(R)RS). Moreover, the latter technique has the power to resolve and identify many different molecules in a mixture. This project seeks to identify molecular changes inside cells at a highly sensitive level on cellular differentiation and in response to environmental or drug treatments. Overall, this paves the way for gaining new fundamental insights into cellular characteristics and biochemical processes ushering into a new paradigm for biological research, which could be crucial for stem cell therapies and drug discovery.

Funding: EPSRC, IfLS

Funding duration: 2010 – 2013, 2012 - 2015

Research groups: CBDT and IfLS

Staff: Sumeet Mahajan

Student: Anna Huefner, Justyna P. Smus

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Related research groups

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics

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