Near-field optics (NFO) overcomes the diffraction limit of light microscopes and permits single molecules to be imaged. Current NFO systems are designed to scan over the object being imaged and has found many applications in the physical sciences. However, there is a lack of tools that allow one to view intracellular processes, which would have many applications in the neurosciences, cancer studies and drug delivery fields. In this work, the authors have developed near-field optical probes, with nanometer apertures, that achieve much higher light throughput than conventional near-field fiber probes. The probes are designed to penetrate a living cell without destroying it. In parallel to this work, a microfluidic device has been designed and fabricated which is part of a high resolution imaging system the authors are developing. The microfluidic device or “CellTray” contains over 7000 individual wells that contain multiple cells. Together the optical probe and CellTray bring us a step closer to a lab-on-a-chip device for biomedical research.

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