A simple backscattering microscope for fast tracking of biological molecules

Sowa, Yoshiyuki; Steel, Bradley C.; Berry, Richard M.
November 2010
Review of Scientific Instruments;Nov2010, Vol. 81 Issue 11, p113704
Academic Journal
Recent developments in techniques for observing single molecules under light microscopes have helped reveal the mechanisms by which molecular machines work. A wide range of markers can be used to detect molecules, from single fluorophores to micron sized markers, depending on the research interest. Here, we present a new and simple objective-type backscattering microscope to track gold nanoparticles with nanometer and microsecond resolution. The total noise of our system in a 55 kHz bandwidth is ∼0.6 nm per axis, sufficient to measure molecular movement. We found our backscattering microscopy to be useful not only for in vitro but also for in vivo experiments because of lower background scattering from cells than in conventional dark-field microscopy. We demonstrate the application of this technique to measuring the motion of a biological rotary molecular motor, the bacterial flagellar motor, in live Escherichia coli cells.


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