Multi-dimensional super-resolution imaging enables surface hydrophobicity mapping

Marie N. Bongiovanni, Julien Godet, Mathew H. Horrocks, Laura Tosatto, Alexander R. Carr, David C. Wirthensohn, Rohan T. Ranasinghe, Ji Eun Lee, Aleks Ponjavic, Joelle V. Fritz, Christopher M. Dobson, David Klenerman, Steven F. Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Super-resolution microscopy allows biological systems to be studied at the nanoscale, but has been restricted to providing only positional information. Here, we show that it is possible to perform multi-dimensional super-resolution imaging to determine both the position and the environmental properties of single-molecule fluorescent emitters. The method presented here exploits the solvatochromic and fluorogenic properties of nile red to extract both the emission spectrum and the position of each dye molecule simultaneously enabling mapping of the hydrophobicity of biological structures. We validated this by studying synthetic lipid vesicles of known composition. We then applied both to super-resolve the hydrophobicity of amyloid aggregates implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, and the hydrophobic changes in mammalian cell membranes. Our technique is easily implemented by inserting a transmission diffraction grating into the optical path of a localization-based super-resolution microscope, enabling all the information to be extracted simultaneously from a single image plane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13544
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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