Biological cells react highly sensitively to other cells and materials. Thereby, defined surface structuring and chemical functionalization can have a decisive impact on the colonization of cells on surfaces. However, the correlations are complex and there are numerous possible influencing factors. Comprehensive and effective methods for surface and cell analysis are therefore essential for the development and manufacturing of bio-functional surfaces.
At Fraunhofer IOF, angle-resolved light scattering techniques are used for the characterization of such functional micro- and nanostructures in combination or as an alternative to microscopic techniques. In contrast to these standard methods, scatter techniques show a highly promising potential to be scaled to larger areas. Because of its fast measurement approach and high sensitivity to small particles, light scattering based techniques are also already broadly used for the detection and analysis of biological cells, for example in flow cytometry. Yet, these systems use only a small part of the scattering information from single cells. We developed a new innovative system that specifically allows the detection and analysis of cells by measuring their angle-resolved scattered light. These scatter distributions contain detailed geometrical and structural information of the illuminated sample and can thereby go beyond the detection and differentiation of individual cells. In this way, angle-resolved light scattering measurement can be used as a contact- and label-free characterization method of surfaces and their colonization by cells.