Low-frequency vibration modes of biological particles, such as proteins, viruses and bacteria, involve coherent collective vibrations at frequencies in the terahertz and gigahertz domains. These vibration modes carry information on their structure and mechanical properties, which are good indicators of their biological state. In this work, we harnessed a particular regime in the physics of coupled mechanical resonators to directly measure these low-frequency mechanical resonances of a single bacterium. We deposit the bacterium on the surface of an ultrahigh frequency optomechanical disk resonator in ambient conditions. The vibration modes of the disk and bacterium hybridize when their associated frequencies are similar. We developed a general theoretical framework to describe this coupling, which allows us to retrieve the eigenfrequencies and mechanical loss of the bacterium low-frequency vibration modes (quality factor). Additionally, we analysed the effect of hydration on these vibrational modes. This work demonstrates that ultrahigh frequency optomechanical resonators can be used for vibrational spectrometry with the unique capability to obtain information on single biological entities.
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This work was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement no. 731868 – VIRUSCAN and European Research Council grants 681275 – LIQUIDMASS- ERC- CoG-2015 and 770933-NOMLI-ERC-CoG 2017, by the Spanish Science, Innovation and Universities Ministry through project CELLTANGLE reference RTI2018-099369-B-I00 and Ramón y Cajal grant RYC-2017-21640 to P.M.K. and by the Comunidad de Madrid (iLUNG B2017/BMD-3884) with support from the EU (FEDER, FSE). We acknowledge J. Mingorance for guidance and for providing the bacterial samples. All the authors acknowledge service from the IMN X-SEM Laboratory, which is funded by MCIU (project CSIC13-4E-1794) and the EU (FEDER, FSE). E.G.S. acknowledges financial support by the Fundación General CSIC (Programa ComFuturo), as well as Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions (H2020-MSCA-IF-2015) under the NOMBIS project (703354).
E.G.-S., J.J.R., O.M., M.C. and J.T. are inventors of a related patent (WO/2019/229000) owned by their host institution Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.
Peer review information Nature Nanotechnology thanks Carlo Ricciardi, Yun-Feng Xiao and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Gil-Santos, E., Ruz, J.J., Malvar, O. et al. Optomechanical detection of vibration modes of a single bacterium. Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 469–474 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-020-0672-y
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