BioNano activities

Advanced photonic antennas for cellular nano-imaging and spectroscopy

Development of nano-tools for quantitative bio-imaging

Project description

We exploit novel concepts of photonic antennas to generate new bionanophotonic tools for ultrasensitive detection, nanoimaging and nanospectroscopy of biomolecules in living cells. By taking advantage of the extraordinary field enhancement, directionality and nanofocusing afforded by resonant and broadband photonic antennas, our approach will allow the ultimate level of sensitivity down to single biomolecule detection in ultra-reduced detection volumes (including living cells). Current efforts focus on the fabrication of aperture antennas either carved at the end of near-field optical fibers or fabricated on planar substrates. When applied to living cells, these devices should provide optical resolution with sub-nanometer localization accuracy as well as dynamic information on the diffusion of individual molecules in nanometer scale regions of the cell membrane.

External collaborations

Dr. Jerome Wenger (Institute Fresnel, Marseille, France), 
Prof. Juergen Brugger (Microsystems Lab, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland), Dr. Mathieu Mivelle (ESPCI, Paris, France)

Selected publications in this project


  • Thousands of nanoantennas to enlighten living cells

    Large-scale arrays of photonic antennas for nanoscale dynamics in living cell membranes. A recent study carried out in collaboration with researchers of the EPFL and Thomas van Zanten, Mathieu Mivelle, and Carlo Manzo in the Single Molecule Biophotonics group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Maria Garcia-Parajo, has succeeded in fabricating hundreds of thousands of … Continue reading →

  • Beyond super-resolution with photonic antennas

    Single molecule nanoimaging with angstrom localization precision using hybrid photonic antennas. A recent study carried out by Mathieu Mivelle and Thomas van Zanten of the Single Molecule Biophotonics group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Maria Garcia-Parajo, demonstrated simultaneous dual-color single molecule nanoimaging with 20 nm resolution and angstrom localization precision using a novel design … Continue reading →

  • New Advances in Photonic Antennas

    María García-Parajo and Niek van Hulst collaborate on developing a novel type of photonic antenna probes. ICFO groups Single molecule biophotonics and Molecular nanophotonics report in Nano Letters on a novel type of photonic antennas engineered at the end of a small scanning needle. The newly designed bowtie nanoaperture antenna probes resulted extremely bright, reduced … Continue reading →

  • Near Field Nanoscopy

    Prof. María García-Parajo coauthors a review article on near-field nanoscopy. The review discusses recent advances in the field of near-field nanoscopy, including atomic force and near-field optical nanoscopy with a special emphasis on single molecule nanoscale imaging of cell surfaces. Quantitative nanoimaging as afforded by these techniques is shedding new light on the highly sophisticated … Continue reading →


▲ Advanced photonic antennas for cellular nano-imaging and spectroscopy