Limits to non-fluorescent voltage sensitivity using surface and particle plasmons

Mark C. Pitter, John Paul, Jing Zhang, Michael Geoffrey Somekh

Research output: Journal article publicationConference articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Voltage sensitive fluorescent dyes have long been used to measure physiological voltages in live cell cultures. However dyes suffer from poor contrast and limited recording duration due to photobleaching. A photostable voltage sensitive cellular label, such as a noble metal nanoparticle, would potentially allow for indefinite recording from neural and other live cell cultures. Noble metals possess an inherent voltage sensitivity: their optical properties depend on their density of free electrons, which can be modulated in an aqueous environment by charging or discharging the double layer capacitance with an applied voltage. This manuscript contains a simple analysis of the expected voltage sensitivity using gold nanospheres and nanoshells in both darkfield and photothermal detection modalities and concludes that high bandwidth voltage measurement is fundamentally achievable.
Original languageEnglish
Article number718006
JournalProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventPhotons and Neurons - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: 25 Jan 200926 Jan 2009


  • Drude
  • Gold
  • Lorentz
  • Mie
  • Nanoshell
  • Nanosphere
  • Particle plasmon resonance
  • Voltage sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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