Ultrasensitive Vibrational Imaging of Retinoids by Visible Preresonance Stimulated Raman Scattering Microscopy

Minghua Zhuge, Kai Chih Huang, Hyeon Jeong Lee, Ying Jiang, Yuying Tan, Haonan Lin, Pu Ting Dong, Guangyuan Zhao, Daniela Matei, Qing Yang, Ji Xin Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


High-sensitivity chemical imaging offers a window to decipher the molecular orchestra inside a living system. Based on vibrational fingerprint signatures, coherent Raman scattering microscopy provides a label-free approach to map biomolecules and drug molecules inside a cell. Yet, by near-infrared (NIR) pulse excitation, the sensitivity is limited to millimolar concentration for endogenous biomolecules. Here, the imaging sensitivity of stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) is significantly boosted for retinoid molecules to 34 micromolar via electronic preresonance in the visible wavelength regime. Retinoids play critical roles in development, immunity, stem cell differentiation, and lipid metabolism. By visible preresonance SRS (VP-SRS) imaging, retinoid distribution in single embryonic neurons and mouse brain tissues is mapped, retinoid storage in chemoresistant pancreatic and ovarian cancers is revealed, and retinoids stored in protein network and lipid droplets of Caenorahbditis elegans are identified. These results demonstrate VP-SRS microscopy as an ultrasensitive label-free chemical imaging tool and collectively open new opportunities of understanding the function of retinoids in biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2003136
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 5 2021


  • fingerprint
  • retinoids
  • stimulated Raman scattering
  • ultrasensitive
  • visible preresonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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