Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is a high-resolution microscopy technique that produces precise topographic images of a sample by scanning the surface with a nanometer-scale probe called cantilever. One of the advantages of AFM imaging is that it enables imaging in air or liquid environment with minimal sample preparation. In the biomedical field, AFM is used to visualize single biomolecules, live or fixed cells or tissues at nanoscale resolution without drying or coating them.
Besides imaging, AFM has been widely used in mechanobiology. It can measure force from ~10 pN up to μN (limited by the spring constant of the cantilever), which is suitable for a wide range of applications, from single biomolecule study, protein-protein/DNA interaction, to cell-cell and cell-tissue interaction.
When coupled with a fluorescence microscope, the investigator can monitor intracellular dynamics while using AFM to apply precisely controlled force at desired location of the sample. This is particularly useful for the mechano-transduction study.
The latest tool for AFM in biological applications, the Bioscope II with Nanoscope V controller (Digital Instruments, Santa Barbara, CA), is available in the Bio-AFM core. The state-of-the-art instrument is coupled to an inverted Zeiss fluorescence microscope, which enables the user to perform simultaneous AFM and light/fluorescence microscopy on biological samples.
We also have a brand new JPK ForceRobot 300, which is specifically designed for high-volume automatic force measurement, for example nano-indentation and biomolecule force measurement.
We train and assist users in use of AFM for their research, consult and advise users on experimental design, offer equipment time or perform AFM experiments and related data analysis for them.