Dissertation Defense

Femtosecond Laser Pulse Optimization For Multiphoton Cytometry and Control of Fluorescence

Eric Robert Tkaczyk

This body of work encompasses optimization of near infrared femtosecond laser pulses both for enhancement of flow cytometry as well as adaptive pulse shaping to control fluorescence. A two-photon system for in vivo flow cytometry is demonstrated, which allows noninvasive quantification of circulating cell populations in a single live mouse. We monitor fluorescently-labeled red blood cells for more than two weeks, and are also able to noninvasively measure circulation times of two distinct populations of breast cancer cells simultaneously in a single mouse. We build a custom laser excitation source in the form of an extended cavity mode-locked oscillator, which enhances the two-photon signal strength several fold relative to a commercial laser. This enables superior detection in whole blood or saline of cell lines expressing fluorescent proteins including the green fluorescent protein (GFP), tdTomato and mPlum. A mathematical model explains unique features of the signals including: sub-square law scaling of unsaturated two-photon signal; a sigmoidal sensitivity curve for detection under varying excitation powers; and uncorrelated signal strengths in two detection channels.
The ability to distinguish different fluorescent species is central to simultaneous measurement of multiple molecular targets in high throughput applications including the multiphoton flow cytometer. We demonstrate that two dyes which are not distinguishable to one-photon measurements can be differentiated and in fact quantified in mixture via phase-shaped two-photon excitation pulses found by a genetic algorithm. We also selectively enhance or suppress two-photon fluorescence of numerous common dyes with tailored pulse shapes. Using a multiplicative (rather than ratiometric) fitness parameter, we are able to control the fluorescence while maintaining a strong signal. The importance of linear chirp and power scaling checks on the adaptive learning process is investigated in detail. With this method, we control the two-photon fluorescence of the blue fluorescent protein (BFP), which is of particular interest in investigations of protein-protein interactions, and has frustrated previous attempts of control. Implementing an acousto-optic interferometer, we use the same experimental setup to measure two-photon excitation cross-sections of dyes and prove that photon-photon interferences are the predominant mechanism of control.
This research establishes the basis for molecularly tailored pulse shaping in multiphoton flow cytometry, which will advance our ability to probe the biology of circulating cells during disease progression and response to therapy.

Sponsored by

Theodore B. Norris