JPK Instruments, Berlin, Germany
The atomic force microscope
(AFM) is a high-resolution type of scanning probe microscope, which has recently
started to attract the interest of biologists. AFM provides a true
three-dimensional surface profile and the samples imaged by AFM do not require
any special treatments (such as metal/carbon coatings) as for instance needed
for electron microscopy. The AFM works in ambient air or in liquid environment
and at elevated temperature. This makes it possible to study biomolecules in
their natural environment or living cells in the required culture media at 37°C.
The NanoWizard® I BioAFM (tip scanner) is especially designed for applications in life science. It can be operated in contact and intermittent-contact mode both in air and in liquid. The cantilever is activated by a piezo ceramics, whereas the detection is based on the standard infrared laser reflection onto a four-quadrant photodiode.
a) A schematic image of the working concept of AFM. b) + c) The NanoWizard® I BioAFM positioned on top of a inverted microscope (Axiovert 2000, Zeiss).
Three living myoblasts which are
fusing are imaged in contact mode in CO2-independent media
at 37°C. a) Transmission microscopy
image of two cantilevers and living cells on the substrate. Error signal (b)
trace and c) retrace and height images (d) trace and e) retrace) of 3 fusing
Vesicles on Nanopillars
Contact mode AFM images in liquid of a surface structured with nanopillars before (height a) and error signal b) and after exposure to 100 nm vesicles (height c) and error signal d) including high magnification images (height e) and error signal f).
AFM in Combination with Electrochemistry
A flow cell is used as electrochemical cell together with conductive cantilevers which can be wired and used as electrodes. An indium tin oxide (ITO) surface imaged in buffer solution in the electrochemical flow cell is shown (OCP = 0.28 V, 10 μm × 4 μm, contact mode).
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