Resolving Rotational Motions of Nano-objects in Engineered Environments and Live Cells with Gold Nanorods and Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy

Gold nanorods are excellent orientation probes due to their anisotropic optical properties. Their dynamic rotational motion in the 3D space can be disclosed with Nomarski-type differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy. We demonstrate that by using the combination of gold nanorod probes and DIC microscopy, we are able to resolve rotational motions of nano-cargos transported by motor proteins at video rate not only on engineered surfaces but also on cytoskeleton tracks in live cells.