Raman spectroscopy of individual monocytes reveals that single-beam optical trapping of mononuclear cells occurs by their nucleus

Samantha Fore, James W Chan, Douglas Taylor, Thomas R Huser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


We show that laser tweezers Raman spectroscopy of eukaryotic cells with a significantly larger diameter than the tight focus of a single-beam laser trap leads to optical trapping of the cell by its optically densest part, i.e.typically the cell's nucleus. Raman spectra of individual optically trapped monocytes are compared with location-specific Raman spectra of monocytes adhered to a substrate. When the cell's nucleus is stained with a fluorescent live cell stain, the Raman spectrum of the DNA-specific stain is observed only in the nucleus of individual monocytes. Optically trapped monocytes display the same behavior. We also show that the Raman spectra of individual monocytes exhibit the characteristic Raman signature of cells that have not yet fully differentiated and that individual primary monocytes can be distinguished from transformed monocytes based on their Raman spectra. This work provides further evidence that laser tweezers Raman spectroscopy of individual cells provides meaningful biochemical information in an entirely non-destructive fashion that permits discerning differences between cell types and cellular activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044021
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011



  • laser tweezers
  • monocytes
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • single-cell spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials

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