Multimodal imaging concepts

This project aims for a multimodal and multidimensional characterisation of biomaterials, such as heart and muscle tissue. The Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Nanostructures, Miniaturisation, and CARS Microscopy groups are jointly developing the required techniques to detect differences between health and disease or even between various disease states.

Biological cells and tissues are mainly comprised of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. In vibrational spectroscopy methods such as Raman spectroscopy, the image contrast is based on molecule properties, enabling these methods to provide spatially resolved information on the composition of tissues and cells in a label-free and non-invasive manner. The combination of these methods with mass spectrometry is very helpful from an analytical point of view: MS-based methods destroy the sample material, but can provide quantitative information about the molecular composition of the sample, which may help to clarify the diagnostic decisions. Thus, by combining the complementary data it should become possible to derive medically and biologically relevant information about the analysed tissue. One aim of the work is to enable a combined, spatially resolved Raman MS analysis of tissue sections.

The project is divided in two work packages:

Imaging on biological samples in the VIS to DUV spectrum

In this project part, the groups combine different optical measuring techniques such as high-resolution fluorescence or two-photon fluorescence as well as CARS and Raman microscopy in the visible to deep ultraviolet spectrum. Later on, further methods such as NMR and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation will be integrated into the measuring platform.

Detection of small molecules in tissue sections

In this part of the project, the groups aim to couple Raman spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. They are planning to use lasers for molecule excitation that can also desorb molecules from the surface by ramping up the power. These can then be specifically ionised and directly transferred into the mass spectrometer, comple­menting the spectral information with molecule mass and concentration data.