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  1. Development of a simple, label-free screening technique capable of precisely and directly sensing interaction-in-solution over a size range from small molecules to large proteins such as antibodies could offer an important tool for researchers and pharmaceutical companies in the field of drug development. In this work, we present a thermostable Raman interaction profiling (TRIP) technique that facilitates low-concentration and low-dose screening of binding between protein and ligand in physiologically relevant conditions. TRIP was applied to eight protein–ligand systems, and produced reproducible high-resolution Raman measurements, which were analyzed by principal component analysis. TRIP was able to resolve time-depending binding between 2,4-dinitrophenol and transthyretin, and analyze biologically relevant SARS-CoV-2 spike-antibody interactions. Mixtures of the spike receptor–binding domain with neutralizing, nonbinding, or binding but nonneutralizing antibodies revealed distinct and reproducible Raman signals. TRIP holds promise for the future developments of high-throughput drug screening and real-time binding measurements between protein and drug. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 25, 2024
  2. Non-destructive measurements of internal morphological structures in plant materials such as seeds are of high interest in agricultural research. The estimation of pericarp thickness is important to understand the grain quality and storage stability of seeds and can play a crucial role in improving crop yield. In this study, we demonstrate the applicability of fiber-based Bessel beam Fourier domain (FD) optical coherence microscopy (OCM) with a nearly constant high lateral resolution maintained at over ~400 µm for direct non-invasive measurement of the pericarp thickness of two different sorghum genotypes. Whereas measurements based on axial profiles need additional knowledge of the pericarp refractive index, en-face views allow for direct distance measurements. We directly determine pericarp thickness from lateral sections with a 3 µm resolution by taking the width of the signal corresponding to the pericarp at the 1/e threshold. These measurements enable differentiation of the two genotypes with 100% accuracy. We find that trading image resolution for acquisition speed and view size reduces the classification accuracy. Average pericarp thicknesses of 74 µm (thick phenotype) and 43 µm (thin phenotype) are obtained from high-resolution lateral sections, and are in good agreement with previously reported measurements of the same genotypes. Extracting the morphological features of plant seeds using Bessel beam FD-OCM is expected to provide valuable information to the food processing industry and plant breeding programs. 
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  3. Abstract In a viral pandemic, a few important tests are required for successful containment of the virus and reduction in severity of the infection. Among those tests, a test for the neutralizing ability of an antibody is crucial for assessment of population immunity gained through vaccination, and to test therapeutic value of antibodies made to counter the infections. Here, we report a sensitive technique to detect the relative neutralizing strength of various antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We used bright, photostable, background-free, fluorescent upconversion nanoparticles conjugated with SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain as a phantom virion. A glass bottom plate coated with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) protein imitates the target cells. When no neutralizing IgG antibody was present in the sample, the particles would bind to the ACE-2 with high affinity. In contrast, a neutralizing antibody can prevent particle attachment to the ACE-2-coated substrate. A prototype system consisting of a custom-made confocal microscope was used to quantify particle attachment to the substrate. The sensitivity of this assay can reach 4.0 ng/ml and the dynamic range is from 1.0 ng/ml to 3.2  $$\upmu$$ μ g/ml. This is to be compared to 19 ng/ml sensitivity of commercially available kits. 
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  4. We investigate quantum beats by monitoring cooperative emission from rubidium vapor and demonstrate correlated beats via coupled emission channels. We develop a theoretical model, and our simulations are in good agreement with experimental results. The results pave the way for advanced techniques measuring interactions between atoms that are excited to high energy levels. 
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  5. Fungal melanins represent a resource for important breakthroughs in industry and medicine, but the characterization of their composition, synthesis, and structure is not well understood. Raman spectroscopy is a powerful tool for the elucidation of molecular composition and structure. In this work, we characterize the Raman spectra of wild-type Aspergillus fumigatus and Cryptococcus neoformans and their melanin biosynthetic mutants and provide a rough “map” of the DHN (A. fumigatus) and DOPA (C. neoformans) melanin biosynthetic pathways. We compare this map to the Raman spectral data of Aspergillus nidulans wild-type and melanin biosynthetic mutants obtained from a previous study. We find that the fully polymerized A. nidulans melanin cannot be classified according to the DOPA pathway; nor can it be solely classified according to the DHN pathway, consistent with mutational analysis and chemical inhibition studies. Our approach points the way forward for an increased understanding of, and methodology for, investigating fungal melanins. 
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  6. We present a robust fiber-based setup for Bessel-like beam extended depth-of-focus Fourier-domain optical coherence microscopy, where the Bessel-like beam is generated in a higher order mode fiber module. In this module a stable guided LP02core mode is selectively excited by a long period grating written in the higher order mode fiber. Imaging performance of this system in terms of lateral resolution and depth of focus was analyzed using samples of suspended microbeads and compared to the case where illumination is provided by the fundamental LP01mode of a single mode fiber. Illumination with the LP02mode allowed for a lateral resolution down to 2.5 µm as compared to 4.5 µm achieved with the LP01mode of the single mode fiber. A three-fold enhancement of the depth of focus compared to a Gaussian beam with equally tight focus is achieved with the LP02mode. Analysis of the theoretical lateral point spread functions for the case of LP01and LP02illumination agrees well with the experimental data. As the design space of waveguides and long-period gratings allows for further optimization of the beam parameters of the generated Bessel-like beams in an all-fiber module, this approach offers a robust and yet flexible alternative to free-space optics approaches or the use of conical fiber tips.

     
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  7. null (Ed.)