Optically assisted transfection is emerging as a powerful and versatile method for the delivery of foreign therapeutic agents to cells at will. In particular the use of ultrashort pulse lasers has proved an important route to transiently permeating the cell membrane through a multiphoton process. Though optical transfection has been gaining wider usage to date, all incarnations of this technique have employed free space light beams. In this paper we demonstrate the first system to use fibre delivery for the optical transfection of cells. We engineer a standard optical fibre to generate an axicon tip with an enhanced intensity of the remote output field that delivers ultrashort (similar to 800 fs) pulses without requiring the fibre to be placed in very close proximity to the cell sample. A theoretical model is also developed in order to predict the light propagation from axicon tipped and bare fibres, in both air and water environments. The model proves to be in good agreement with the experimental findings and can be used to establish the optimum fibre parameters for successful cellular transfection. We readily obtain efficiencies of up to 57 % which are comparable with free space transfection. This advance paves the way for optical transfection of tissue samples and endoscopic embodiments of this technique.
- FEMTOSECOND LASER