Imaging nanoparticles in cells by nanomechanical holography

Nat Nanotechnol. 2008 Aug;3(8):501-5. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2008.162. Epub 2008 Jun 22.


Nanomaterials have potential medical applications, for example in the area of drug delivery, and their possible adverse effects and cytotoxicity are curently receiving attention. Inhalation of nanoparticles is of great concern, because nanoparticles can be easily aerosolized. Imaging techniques that can visualize local populations of nanoparticles at nanometre resolution within the structures of cells are therefore important. Here we show that cells obtained from mice exposed to single-walled carbon nanohorns can be probed using a scanning probe microscopy technique called scanning near field ultrasonic holography. The nanohorns were observed inside the cells, and this was further confirmed using micro Raman spectroscopy. Scanning near field ultrasonic holography is a useful technique for probing the interactions of engineered nanomaterials in biological systems, which will greatly benefit areas in drug delivery and nanotoxicology.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Silicates / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry
  • Holography / methods*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / ultrastructure
  • Magnesium Chloride / chemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure*
  • Nanospheres / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / adverse effects
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Particle Size
  • Poloxamer / chemistry
  • Random Allocation
  • Solubility
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Poloxamer
  • Carbon
  • mica