Single cell induced optical confinement in biological lasers

M. Karl, C. P. Dietrich, M. Schubert, I. D. W. Samuel, G. A. Turnbull, M. C. Gather*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Biological single cell lasers have shown great potential for fundamental research and next generation sensing applications. In this study, the potential of fluorescent biological cells as refractive index landscapes and active optical elements is investigated using a combined Fourier- and hyperspectral imaging technique. We show that the refractive index contrast between cell and surrounding leads to three dimensional confinement of photons inside living cells. The Fourier- and real-space emission characteristics of these biological lasers are closely related and can be predicted from one another. Investigations of the lasing threshold for different energy and momentum position in Fourier-space give insight into the fundamental creation of longitudinal and transverse lasing modes within the cell. These findings corroborate the potential of living biological materials for precision engineering of photonic structures and may pave the way towards low threshold polariton lasing from single cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number084005
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physics D : Applied Physics
Issue number8
Early online date31 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Biolaser
  • Optical confinement
  • Microcavities
  • Fourier imaging
  • Hyperspectral imaging


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