Quantitative surface plasmon spectroscopy: Determination of the infrared optical constants of living cells

Alexander Zilbershtein*, Michael Golosovsky, Vladislav Lirtsman, Benjamin Aroeti, Dan Davidov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy gives a great amount of information on the distribution of chemical components in biological objects, in particular cells, in a label-free manner. We report on the development of the spectroscopic technique that combines the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and the FTIR. Our method is based on the original processing of SPR measurements at varying angles and wavelengths and yields the complex refractive index of the analyte in a broad wavelength region. Contrary to previous SPR studies which yielded information about refractive index variation only, our technique gives absolute optical constants of the examined medium. Using this approach, we studied living Madin Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells cultured in their natural aqueous environment and measured their optical constants. We showed that our technique has the ability to distinguish absorption lines of certain chemical components of the cells, such as the absorption lines of a CH n bonds which are characteristic mostly for cell membrane lipids.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalVibrational Spectroscopy
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to V. Freilikher for discussions of surface plasmon scattering in cell layers. This research was supported by Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade through the Nofar program. V. Lirtsman gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Lady Davis Fellowship foundation .


  • FT-IR spectroscopy
  • Living cells spectroscopy
  • Optical constants
  • Surface plasmon resonance


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