Distinguishing between intact cells, dead but still whole cells, and cell debris is an important but difficult task in life sciences. The most common way to identify dead cells is using a cell-impermeant DNA binding dye, such as propidium iodide. A healthy living cell has an intact cell membrane and will act as a barrier to the dye so that it cannot enter the cell. A dead cell has a compromised cell membrane, and it will allow the dye into the cell to bind to the DNA and become fluorescent. The dead cells therefore will be positive and the live cells will be negative. The dead cells later deteriorate quickly into debris. Different pieces of debris from a single cell can be incorrectly identified as separate dead cells. Although a flow cytometer can quickly perform numerous quantitative, sensitive measurements on each individual cell to determine the viability of cells within a large, heterogeneous population, it is bulky, expensive, and only large hospitals and laboratories can afford them. In this work, we show that the distance-dependent coupling of fluorophore light to surface plasmon coupled emission (SPCE) from fluorescently-labeled cells can be used to distinguish whole cells from cell debris. Once the fluorescent labels are excited by a laser, the fluorescently-labeled whole cells create two distinct intensity rings in the far-field, in contrast to fluorescently-labeled cell debris, which only creates one ring. The distinct far-field patterns can be captured by camera and used to distinguish between whole cells and cell debris.
Although solar cells can meet the increasing demand for energy of modern world, their usage is not as widespread as expected because of their high production cost and low efficiency. Thin-film and ultra-thin-film solar cells with single and multiple active layers are being investigated to reduce cost. Additionally, multiple active layers of different energy bandgaps are used in tandem in order to absorb the solar spectra more efficiently. However, the efficiency of ultra-thin-film tandem solar cells may suffer significantly mainly because of low photon absorption and current mismatch between active layers. In this work, we study the effects of intermediate plasmonic structures on the performance of ultra-thin-film tandem solar cells. We consider three structures| each with a top amorphous silicon layer and a bottom micro-crystalline silicon layer, and an intermediate plasmonic layer between them. The intermediate layer is either a metal layer with periodic holes or periodic metal strips or periodic metal nano-clusters. Using a finite difference time domain technique for incident AM 1.5 solar spectra, we show that these intermediate layers help to excite different plasmonic and photonic modes for different light polarizations, and thereby, increase the absorption of light significantly. We find that the short-circuit current density increases by ~12%, ~6%, and ~9% when the intermediate plasmonic structure is a metal hole-array, strips, and nano-clusters, respectively, from that of a structure that does not have the intermediate plasmonic layer.