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Advances in Optical Technologies
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 254317, 7 pages
Research Article

Nanotomography of Cell Surfaces with Evanescent Fields

1Institute of Applied Research, Hochschule Aalen, Anton-Huber-Street 1, 73430 Aalen, Germany
2Institute of Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology, Ulm University, Helmholtzstr. 12, 89081 Ulm, Germany
3Centre de Recherche en Automatique de Nancy, Nancy Université, CNRS, Centre Alexis Vautrin, Avenue de Bourgogne, 54511 Vandoeuvre les Nancy, France

Received 13 March 2008; Accepted 29 April 2008

Academic Editor: Stoyan Tanev

Copyright © 2008 Michael Wagner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The technique of variable-angle total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) and its application to nanotomography of cell surfaces are described. Present applications include (1) 3D imaging of chromosomes in their metaphase to demonstrate axial resolution in the nanometre range, (2) measurements of cell-substrate topology, which upon cholesterol depletion shows some loosening of cell-substrate contacts, and (3) measurements of cell topology upon photodynamic therapy (PDT), which demonstrate cell swelling and maintenance of focal contacts. The potential of the method for in vitro diagnostics, but also some requirements and limitations are discussed.