Laser-induced breakdown of an optically trapped gold nanoparticle for single cell transfection

Y. Arita, M. Ploschner, M. Antkowiak, F. Gunn-Moore, and K. Dholakia

Optics Letters 38, 3402-3405 (2013)

doi: 10.1364/OL.38.003402

The cell selective introduction of therapeutic agents remains a challenging problem. Here we demonstrate spatially controlled cavitation instigated by laser-induced breakdown of an optically trapped single gold nanoparticle of diameter 100 nm. The energy breakdown threshold of the gold nanoparticle with a single nanosecond laser pulse at 532 nm is three orders of magnitude lower than water, which leads to nanocavitation allowing single cell transfection. We quantify the shear stress to cells from the expanding bubble and optimize the pressure to be in the range of 110kPa1–10  kPa for transfection. The method shows transfection of plasmid DNA into individual mammalian cells with an efficiency of 75%.