A confocal impedance microscope capable of producing two-dimensional electrical images and three-dimensional optical images of materials and cells simultaneously will be developed. The electrical images are produced using two closely related techniques. In formation about the local electrical impedance will be obtained using Scanning Photo-induce Impedance Microscopy; information about local electrical potentials and pH will be obtained from so-called Light-Addressable Potentiometric Sensors. Both techniques are based on photocurrent measurements at electrolyte-insulator semiconductor structures. Optical images will be measured by confocal microscopy.
Electrical and optical images will be used to monitor physiological processes such as signal transmission in neurons or metabolic processes. Using the new instrument, ion channel activity will be monitored in different parts of the cell at the interface between cell and surface, an area that is not accessible by traditional patch clamp techniques. For the design of new materials that promote tissue growth, the interaction between cells and surface is of great importance. The confocal impedance microscope will provide information about cell morphological and cytoskeletal changes and also changes in the impedance, i.e. transport properties of the cell membrane in the cell attachment area.
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