Single-cell biomechanics: photoacoustic and photothermal approaches (OptoCellMech)
Cells, as functional units of any living tissue, are considered as the building blocks of life. They constantly generate, sustain, and respond to mechanical forces when interacting with their microenvironment, during tissue development and wounding healing. Of fundamental importance in the field is the ability to quantify biomechanics at single cell level. Acoustic waves travel through different materials at specific sound velocities and damping rates, softer materials often have slower sound velocities and stronger attenuation. Hence studying acoustic wave propagation in a material can provide quantitative information on its elasticity and viscosity. One excellent example is the widely used medical ultrasonography. Using laser-induced ultrafast acoustic and thermal waves, this project aims at developing a set of photoacoustic and photothermal techniques to allow a complementary study of cell biomechanics, in a non-contact and non-invasive manner with high spatial resolution. The proposed research shall bring significant progress in experimental biomechanics, and so to better understanding of a myriad of biophysical processes in play during tissue development.