Scanning Microwave Microscopy of Vital Mitochondria in Respiration Buffer

We demonstrate imaging using scanning microwave microscopy (SMM) of vital mitochondria in respiration buffer. The mitochondria are isolated from cultured HeLa cells and tethered to a solid graphene support. The mitochondria are kept vital (alive) using a respiration buffer, which provides nutrients to sustain the Krebs cycle. We verify that the mitochondria are “alive” by measuring the membrane potential using a voltage sensitive fluorescent dye (TMRE). The organelles are measured capacitively at 7 GHz. Several technical advances are demonstrated which enable this work: 1) The SMM operates in an electrophysiologically relevant liquid (hence conducting) environment; 2) The SMM operates in tapping mode, averaging the microwave reflection measurement over many tapping periods; 3) A tuned reflectometer enables increased sensitivity; 4) Variable frequencies up to 18 GHz are used; 5) In contrast with traditional matching/resonant methods that exhibit high quality factor that fail in the presence of liquids, interferometric/tuned reflectometer gives the possibility to adjust the quality factor or sensitivity even in the presence of the liquid.