Raman and SERS microscopy for molecular imaging of live cells

Almar F. Palonpon, Jun Ando, Hiroyuki Yamakoshi, Kosuke Dodo, Mikiko Sodeoka, Satoshi Kawata, Katsumasa Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

282 Citations (Scopus)


Raman microscopy is a promising technology for visualizing the distribution of molecules in cells. A challenge for live-cell imaging using Raman microscopy has been long imaging times owing to the weak Raman signal. Here we present a protocol for constructing and using a Raman microscope equipped with both a slit-scanning excitation and detection system and a laser steering and nanoparticle-tracking system. Slit scanning allows Raman imaging with high temporal and spatial resolution, whereas the laser beam steering system enables dynamic surface-enhanced Raman imaging using gold nanoparticles. Both features enable mapping of the distributions of molecules in live cells and visualization of cellular transport pathways. Furthermore, its utility can be expanded to small-molecule imaging by using tiny Raman-Active tags such as alkyne. For example, DNA synthesis in a cell can be visualized by detecting 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU), a deoxyuridine derivative with an alkyne moiety. We describe the optics, hardware and software to construct the Raman microscope, and discuss the conditions and parameters involved in live-cell imaging. The whole system can be built in ∼8 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-692
Number of pages16
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar


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