Information about the Shen Lab.


Active NeuronThe research in the Shen lab aims to push the limits of electroanalytical chemistry in neural analysis. Our research interfaces between state of art ultra-high-resolution nano-electroanalytical chemistry and neurobiology. We have developed nano liquid/liquid junction electrodes for the real-time study of chemical transmission at the single synapse and single cell. Our group has pioneered in the study of single-cell exocytosis of acetylcholine with nm spatial resolution (Chemical Science, 2018), and we unveiled for the first time the diverse signaling dynamics of cholinergic transmitters, composed of singlets, doublets, and multiplets (JACS 2018). The main theme of our research is to interrogate chemical, spatial and temporal heterogeneity in biomaterials using chemically-specific nanosensor probes. Currently, our efforts are geared towards two goals:

  1. Developing a multifunctional platform for a comprehensive understanding of neurotransmission
  2. Interrogating neurological disorders with nanometer spatial resolution and in living cell conditions.

Our Principal Investigator is Mei Shen.

Check out the tabs below or our website here to learn more.

Interdisplinary subjects needed to tackle Biomedical Challenges
Our Interests
Developing nanosensor probes for the multifunctional detection of Neurotransmitters

Electroanalytical chemistry has been playing a critical role in studying neurotransmission. Non-redox active neurotransmitters, despite their importance in memory and health, remain largely unexplored. This is due to a lack of suitable sensor probes for their detection.

Our lab is developing novel sensor probes that can be used to detect non-redox active neurotransmitters (such as Acetylcholine) employing multi-disciplinary toolsets such as Nanotechnology, Electrochemistry, and Interfacial Chemistry. The detection is based on ion transfer across nanoscopic interfaces between two immiscible electrolyte solutions (ITIES). Besides, these sensor probes developed in the Shen lab can be used to detect redox-active neurotransmitters as well. In fact, the Shen group has reported the first-ever detection of Acetylcholine (non-redox active), serotonin and tryptamine (redox-active) with nanometer-sized ITIES probes.

Nanometer-resolution imaging of biological processes at single & nano-biostructures

Studying neurotransmission at single nano-biostructures has been a challenge facing scientists for many years. This is due to limitations in available probes and platforms for performing such measurements as well as resolve the technical challenges set by the size of nanostructures, i.e. synaptic cleft typically has a size less than 100nm. Our lab is employing nanoITIES electrode sensor probes, and nano-resolution Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy imaging platform, to study neurotransmission at this technically challenging yet biologically critical region, Synaptic Cleft.