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Translational Optoacoustics

Pleitez lab

Our group develops and applies label-free chemical microscopy using vibrational spectroscopy and positive-contrast detection for non-invasive biomedical/biological imaging and biosensing

Pleitez lab

Our group develops and applies label-free chemical microscopy using vibrational spectroscopy and positive-contrast detection for non-invasive biomedical/biological imaging and biosensing

Translational Optoacoustics / Pleitez lab: Contact

Prof. Dr. Miguel Angel Rafael Pleitez

Affiliated Professor

Einsteinstr. 25, TranslaTUM (bldg. 522), room 22.3.36

Pleitez lab

About our Research

Mid-infrared (mid-IR) excitation and optoacoustic/optothermal (OA/OT) sensing are excellent examples of perfectly complementary technologies. Vibrational molecular excitations by mid-IR absorption are utterly de-excited in the form of heat while efficient OA/OT signal generation primarily depends on heat deposition. This synergy allows overcoming the (otherwise persistent) limitations of traditional mid-IR spectroscopy and imaging in biological/biomedical applications—i.e., sample opacity due to water absorption. My team harvest on this highly sensitive bond-selective combination for developing and applying new tools, particularly, for longitudinal live-cell metabolic microscopy, fast analytical histology/biopsy, and in vivo non-invasive monitoring of metabolites.

Our understanding of cell biology in health and disease is greatly derived from observations with optical microscopy. However, the biggest strength of modern optical microscopy lies within the application of external contrast labels that are not always feasible or perturb the normal performance of the system in study. The next frontier in optical microscopy is, thus, label-free metabolic imaging as it will allow to study metabolic response in homeostasis and therapeutic intervention without perturbation of normal biological behavior. Nevertheless, label-free metabolic imaging remains challenging because it implies the ability to directly observe biomolecular content and biochemical reactions without destroying the sample and without the aid of external reagents. This is particularly difficult to conventional optical microscopy which, at wavelengths below 700 nm, lacks intrinsic biochemical specificity or results in phototoxicity. Additionally, it also remains challenging to advanced vibrational imaging modalities, such as Stimulated Raman Scattering and mid-infrared (mid-IR) microscopy, which provide intrinsic biochemical contrast only at low sensitivities and at high risk of harming the samples.

The general goal of my team in Translational Optoacoustics is to advance biological and biomedical research by achieving non-destructive live-cell chemical microscopy with label-free biomolecular sensitivity using molecule-specific mid-infrared excitation and highly-sensitive optoacoustic and optothermal detection.

The unique features resulting from combining mid-IR excitation with OA/OT sensing hold great promise for live-cell metabolic microscopy, fast analytical histology/biopsy, and in vivo non-invasive monitoring of metabolites.