Infrared Laser-Based Single Cell Permeabilization by Plasma Membrane Temperature Gradients

Allen L. Garner, Bogdan Neculaes, Dmitry V. Dylov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single cell microinjection provides precise tuning of the volume and timing of delivery into the treated cells; however, it also introduces workflow complexity that requires highly skilled operators and specialized equipment. Laser-based microinjection provides an alternative method for targeting a single cell using a common laser and a workflow that may be readily standardized. This paper presents experiments using a 1550 nm, 100 fs pulse duration laser with a repetition rate of 20 ns for laser-based microinjection and calculations of the hypothesized physical mechanism responsible for the experimentally observed permeabilization. Chinese Hamster Ovarian (CHO) cells exposed to this laser underwent propidium iodide uptake, demonstrating the potential for selective cell permeabilization. The agreement between the experimental conditions and the electrop-ermeabilization threshold based on estimated changes in the transmembrane potential induced by a laser-induced plasma membrane temperature gradient, even without accounting for enhancement due to traditional electroporation, strengthens the hypothesis of this mechanism for the experimental observations. Compared to standard 800 nm lasers, 1550 nm fs lasers may ultimately provide a lower cost microinjection method that readily interfaces with a microscope and is agnostic to operator skill, while inducing fewer deleterious effects (e.g., temperature rise, shockwaves, and cavitation bubbles).

Original languageEnglish
Article number574
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • membrane permeabilization
  • microinjection
  • optoinjection
  • optoporation
  • temperature gradients
  • transfection


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