The cell is an intricate machinery that still fascinates scientists almost four centuries after its discovery. Surprisingly, there is so much that is still undiscovered about cells. The field of cell mechanobiology connects cellular processes and the mechanics of the cell including elasticity, stiffness, viscoelasticity, and adhesion. This field gained increasing attention after it was discovered that the mechanical properties of cells can be used to inform cell physiology and pathology. Therefore, uncovering the role of cell mechanics on cellular processes in disease and health is particularly important. Various methods have been developed in order to study cell mechanics. Although most of these methods are invasive and not suitable for continuous monitoring of living cells with high temporal and spatial resolution, some of these technologies intrinsically are very powerful and through novel approaches, their potential can be fully exploited. Brillouin microscopy and micro/nano-indentation are very interesting technologies in this sense. The micro/nano-indentation method uses contact forces to measure elastic/viscoelastic. While this can provide high transverse spatial resolution on the nanometer scale, measurements are averaged along the contact (axial) direction and rely heavily on mechanical models to extract E
values. Brillouin microscopy provides an alternative and complementary assessment of material elasticity and viscosity through measurement of the longitudinal modulus in the GHz frequency range. Even though it is a slow and low signal-to-noise ratio technique, it can directly ‘image’ viscoelastic properties of living matter in 3D and in a noncontact, label-free, and high-resolution fashion. A whole new hybrid approach that combines the best of micro/nano indentation with Brillouin microscopy could open up new possibilities in cell/tissue mechanics. Toward this goal, we will develop this hybrid technology; micro-indentation-assisted Brillouin microscopy. This technology currently does not exist, which can open up new possibilities to investigate cellular mechanics at a different level.
For this project, we are looking for a Post-doc candidate. You work on the development of the Brillouin microscope for living cell experiments and combine it with the nano-indentation method that is already available at our collaborator's lab (Optics11 B.V.). Your duties
- Develop a Brillouin microscope for living cell experiments.
- Combine the nano-indentation method with the Brillouin microscope.
- Validate this hybrid technology on living cells.