Linear and nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy in supercooling and

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Nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy of cellular biological systems: history and
prospects.
1,2
Douglas B. Kell, 2Andrew M. Woodward and 2Michael F. Evans
1
2
Dept. Chemistry, UMIST, PO Box 88, Sackville St, MANCHESTER M60 1QD, UK
Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, ABERYSTWYTH SY23 4NE, UK
[email protected] http://www2.umist.ac.uk/chemistry/Contact/Staff/kell.htm
When a suspension of cells is exposed to a static electric field, or to an alternating
-dielectric dispersion, it
is dropped almost entirely across the outer membrane of the cell, which is predominantly
capacitive at these frequencies, and, due to its thinness, causes a substantial amplification of
the field across the membrane. (e.g. [1]). In consequence, anything internal to the cell is
essentially electrically invisible to a low frequency electric field, but anything dielectrically
active in the membrane may be expected to display properties associated with fields far
stronger than that applied externally. Dielectric breakdown and a variety of other phenomena
of much bioelectrochemical (and nowadays commercial) interest are well known to occur
when the exciting field is relatively high.
The dielectric response of biological tissue has long been assumed linear when the
macroscopic exciting field is low, say < 10V. m-1 as used typically, though most dielectric
experiments assume linearity by measuring signals that occur only at the applied frequency.
An enzyme which has different dipole moments in different conformations during its
operation may be affected by electromagnetic fields, and it can be shown theoretically that the
dielectric response of such material may be expected to be nonlinear (in particular it is
manifest as harmonics in response to an exciting sinusoid) even at low applied fields [2; 3].
In earlier work, we have been able to demonstrate the presence, and investigated the
properties of, these predicted harmonics as generated by a variety of cell suspensions using a
nonlinear dielectric spectrometer, that we designed around a standard IBM-compatible PC
and realised almost completely in software, with a minimum of extraneous hardware (e.g. [47]). We were able to note substantial changes, both qualitative and quantitative, in the
nonlinear dielectric spectra observed when resting cells were allowed to metabolise actively
following the addition of appropriate substrates, and (after suitable signal processing) these
had substantial diagnostic utility. Inhibitor and other studies indicated that in yeast the signal
was due mainly to the H+-ATPase located in the cells' plasma membrane [4; 8].
Interference from electrochemical signals at the electrode interfaces can be reduced by
appropriate coatings [9]. Present studies are designed to eliminate it completely.
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Pethig, R. & Kell, D. B. (1987). The passive electrical properties of biological systems: their significance in
physiology, biophysics and biotechnology. Phys. Med. Biol. 32, 933-970.
Kell, D. B., Astumian, R. D. & Westerhoff, H. V. (1988). Mechanisms for the interaction between
nonstationary electric fields and biological systems. I. Linear dielectric theory and its limitations.
Ferroelectrics 86, 59-78.
Westerhoff, H. V., Astumian, R. D. & Kell, D. B. (1988). Mechanisms for the interaction between
nonstationary electric fields and biological systems. II. Nonlinear dielectric theory and free-energy
transduction. Ferroelectrics 86, 79-101.
Woodward, A. M. & Kell, D. B. (1990). On the nonlinear dielectric properties of biological systems.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Bioelectrochem. Bioenerg. 24, 83-100.
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Woodward, A. M. & Kell, D. B. (1991). On the relationship between the nonlinear dielectric properties and
respiratory activity of the obligately aerobic bacterium Micrococcus luteus. Bioelectrochem. Bioenerg. 26,
423-439.
Woodward, A. M., Jones, A., Zhang, X., Rowland, J. & Kell, D. B. (1996). Rapid and non-invasive
quantification of metabolic substrates in biological cell suspensions using nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy
with multivariate calibration and artificial neural networks. Principles and applications. Bioelectrochem.
Bioenerg. 40, 99-132.
Woodward, A. M., Gilbert, R. J. & Kell, D. B. (1999). Genetic programming as an analytical tool for nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy. Bioelectrochem. Bioenerg. 48, 389-396.
Woodward, A. M. & Kell, D. B. (1991). Confirmation by using mutant strains that the membrane-bound H+ATPase is the major source of nonlinear dielectricity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. FEMS Microbiol. Lett.
84, 91-95.
Woodward, A. M., Davies, E. A., Denyer, S., Olliff, C. & Kell, D. B. (1999). Non-linear dielectric
spectroscopy: antifouling and stabilisation of electrodes by a polymer coating. Bioelectrochemistry 15, 1320.
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