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Functional nanoscale imaging of biological interfaces

Grant number: 21/00800-3
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Young Investigators Grants
Duration: March 01, 2024 - February 28, 2029
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Gabriel Negrão Meloni
Grantee:Gabriel Negrão Meloni
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Most biological processes rely on, or result in, a gradient of charged or electroactive species. The extent of this gradient is tightly maintained (homeostasis) by living organisms throughout metabolic processes. Investigating, monitoring and even transiently disturbing these equilibria can provide insights to the associated metabolic process and hence these gradients can be seen as proxies to metabolic activity. Electrochemical tools can be employed to investigate these and are commonly employed for bulk measurements of large population. These deployments lack the temporal (slow mass transport) and spatial (large physical size) resolution required to monitor the localized and dynamic processes happening at living organisms. Further, they are blind to population heterogeneities and cannot distinguish the subtle differences between individuals in a sample or space-distributed heterogeneities along a single individual. Scanning electrochemical probe microscopy (SEPM) techniques overcomes those shortfalls and can be used to investigate sing entities (nanoparticles, cells, organisms) with nanometre and microsecond resolutions, although lacking throughput. In this project we will develop new SEPM techniques, relying on modern software and hardware, capable of delivering high-throughput, high spatial and temporal resolution measurements, and deploy them to investigate the complex dynamics of living organisms' metabolism. This new SEPMs will be married to advanced-light microscopy (software and hardware level), increasing the density of information acquired and effectively communicate to biologists, producing the first truly bio-SEPM. We will investigate cell metabolism at the single organism (and organelle) level by employing challenges to the organism and monitoring its response with unparalleled resolution. The electrochemical challenge and acquired signal will be calibrated to extensive finite element method (FEM) models, affording a precise control of the challenge and allowing us to investigate complex organism proprieties and processes. (AU)

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