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Biology and Mechanics of Neurons

Raman Spectroscopy


Use of Raman Microscopy will help to understand the dynamics changes of neuron cells in response to mechanically induced injury. This research centers around two main objectives:

  1. Explore the upper and lower threshold for neuron injury.
  2. Quantify the thresholds using state of the art testing methods.


Raman Spectroscopy allows us to analyze the neuron, the main structural and functional component of the brain, to help us understand its biochemical, electrical, and mechanical behaviors under different mechanical loadings. If we define the neuron injury level by these behaviors, we can determine its relationship to the loading level. With this information, we can identify upper and lower damage thresholds as a function of strain and strain rate - important parameters for the designing of helmet effective at preventing bTBI.

Raman Machine

RENISHAW Raman Microscopy

Raman Micro-Spectroscopy

Raman Readout

Observation dynamic changes of neuron cells using Raman spectroscopy

Raman micro-spectroscopy can provide the structural and quantitative information of cells by directly measuring the vibration characteristics of the chemical bonds of the molecules (see chart). By tracking the Raman spectra history, the transformation of a biochemical reaction can be dynamically monitored. Thus, the variation of the Raman spectra of neurons with the mechanical deformation can provide the direct record of neuronal chemical/biological response to the mechanical load at the molecular level, which may be an important first step to understanding the mechanism of neuron injury. We will use the Renishaw inVia Raman microscope and a 63X/NA1.2 water immersion objective lens to study the dynamic spectra changes during mechanical loading.

CARS Microscopy

CARS (Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman) microscopy is a label free microscopy method for live cell study with video rate capability. Currently, CARS microscopy shows great contrast for lipid structure from CH2 vibration bond. CARS images of the lipid bilayer, lipid metabolize, and the myelin sheath of axons have already been studied. In this study, we will use a CARS microscopy setup to study the dynamic changes of intra-cellular lipids (image) and plasma membrane during mechanical loading.

CARS Image of Neuron

CARS microscopy of SHSY5Y cell