Imaging of single liver tumor cells intoxicated by heavy metals using ToF-SIMS

Fu Der Mai, Bo Jung Chen, Li Chen Wu, Feng Yin Li, Wen Kang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Human liver tumor cells intoxicated with five different Cd, Cu, Cr, Hg and Zn metals were analyzed using imaging time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) to visualize the metal distributions in a single cell basis. A protocol was developed by combining rapid freezing, freeze-fracture and imprinting for transferring the intoxicated cells to a silicon wafer. As shown in the ToF-SIMS images, the cellular morphology was preserved indicating that this protocol can be used to prepare a representative cell for ToF-SIMS imaging analysis. Among the five metal ions investigated in this study, only Cr and Cu ions show preferential diffusion into the cell after simulated intoxication while the signals of the other three ions are either too low to be detected or unable to be distinguished from background intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6809-6812
Number of pages4
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Heavy metals
  • Imaging
  • Liver cancer
  • ToF-SIMS
  • Tumor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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