Highly optically active nonlinear bio-photonic crystalline and semicrystalline structures in living cells were studied by a novel multimodal nonlinear microscopy. Numerous biological structures, including stacked membranes and aligned protein structures are highly organized on a nanoscale and have been found to exhibit strong optical activities through second-harmonic generation (SHG) interactions, behaving similarly to man-made nonlinear photonic crystals. The microscopic technology used in this study is based on a combination of different imaging modes including SHG, third-harmonic generation, and multiphoton-induced fluorescence. With no energy release during harmonic generation processes, the nonlinear-photonic-crystal-like SHG activity is useful for investigating the dynamics of structure-function relationships at subcellular levels and is ideal for studying living cells, as minimal or no preparation is required.
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