Photoswitchable polyynes for multiplexed stimulated Raman scattering microscopy with reversible light control

Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 22;15(1):2578. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-46904-6.


Optical imaging with photo-controllable probes has greatly advanced biological research. With superb chemical specificity of vibrational spectroscopy, stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy is particularly promising for super-multiplexed optical imaging with rich chemical information. Functional SRS imaging in response to light has been recently demonstrated, but multiplexed SRS imaging with reversible photocontrol remains unaccomplished. Here, we create a multiplexing palette of photoswitchable polyynes with 16 Raman frequencies by coupling asymmetric diarylethene with super-multiplexed Carbow (Carbow-switch). Through optimization of both electronic and vibrational spectroscopy, Carbow-switch displays excellent photoswitching properties under visible light control and SRS response with large frequency change and signal enhancement. Reversible and spatial-selective multiplexed SRS imaging of different organelles are demonstrated in living cells. We further achieve photo-selective time-lapse imaging of organelle dynamics during oxidative stress and protein phase separation. The development of Carbow-switch for photoswitchable SRS microscopy will open up new avenues to study complex interactions and dynamics in living cells with high spatiotemporal precision and multiplexing capability.