Infrared spectroscopy of live cells from a flowing solution using electrically-biased plasmonic metasurfaces†
Spectral cytopathology (SCP) is a promising label-free technique for diagnosing diseases and monitoring therapeutic outcomes using FTIR spectroscopy. In most cases, cells must be immobilized on a substrate prior to spectroscopic interrogation. This creates significant limitations for high throughput phenotypic whole-cell analysis, especially for the non-adherent cells. Here we demonstrate how metasurface-enhanced infrared reflection spectroscopy (MEIRS) can be applied to a continuous flow of live cell solution by applying AC voltage to metallic metasurfaces. By integrating metasurfaces with microfluidic delivery channels and attracting the cells to the metasurface via dielectrophoretic (DEP) force, we collect the infrared spectra of cells in real time within a minute, and correlate the spectra with simultaneously acquired images of the attracted cells. The resulting DEP-MEIRS technique paves the way for rapid SCP of complex cell-containing body fluids with low cell concentrations, and for the development of a wide range of label-free liquid biopsies.