Development of Lipid-Coated Semiconductor Nanosensors for Recording of Membrane Potential in Neurons

Anastasia Ludwig, Pablo Serna, Lion Morgenstein, Gaoling Yang, Omri Bar-Elli, Gloria Ortiz, Evan Miller, Dan Oron, Asaf Grupi, Shimon Weiss, Antoine Triller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the past decade, optical imaging methods have significantly improved our understanding of the information processing principles in the brain. Although many promising tools have been designed, sensors of membrane potential are lagging behind the rest. Semiconductor nanoparticles are an attractive alternative to classical voltage indicators, such as voltage-sensitive dyes and proteins. Such nanoparticles exhibit high sensitivity to external electric fields via the quantum-confined Stark effect. Here we report the development of semiconductor voltage-sensitive nanorods (vsNRs) that self-insert into the neuronal membrane. To facilitate interaction of the nanorods with the membrane, we functionalized their surface with the lipid mixture derived from brain extract. We describe a workflow to detect and process the photoluminescent signal of vsNRs after wide-field time-lapse recordings. We also present data indicating that vsNRs are feasible for sensing membrane potential in neurons at a single-particle level. This shows the potential of vsNRs for the detection of neuronal activity with unprecedentedly high spatial and temporal resolution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Photonics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • electrophysiology
  • quantum dots
  • quantum-confined Stark effect
  • semiconductor nanoparticles
  • voltage sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this

Ludwig, A., Serna, P., Morgenstein, L., Yang, G., Bar-Elli, O., Ortiz, G., Miller, E., Oron, D., Grupi, A., Weiss, S., & Triller, A. (Accepted/In press). Development of Lipid-Coated Semiconductor Nanosensors for Recording of Membrane Potential in Neurons. ACS Photonics.