Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Andreea Trache1, Gerald A. Meininger2

1 Department of Systems Biology & Translational Medicine, College of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, Texas, 2 Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Microbiology
Unit Number:  Unit 2C.2
DOI:  10.1002/9780471729259.mc02c02s8
Online Posting Date:  February, 2008
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The atomic force microscope (AFM) is an important tool for studying biological samples due to its ability to image surfaces under liquids. The AFM operates by physical interaction of a cantilever tip with the molecules on the cell surface. Adhesion forces between the tip and cell surface molecules are detected as cantilever deflections. Thus, the cantilever tip can be used to image live cells with atomic resolution and to probe single molecular events in living cells under physiological conditions. Currently, this is the only technique available that directly provides structural, mechanical, and functional information at high resolution. This unit presents the basic AFM components, modes of operation, useful tips for sample preparation, and a short review of AFM applications in microbiology. Curr. Protoc. Microbiol. 8:2C.2.1‐2C.2.17. © 2008 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: AFM; imaging; force curves

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Principle of Operation
  • Operation Modes of AFM
  • Practical Guidelines
  • AFM Applications Specific to Microbiology
  • Conclusion
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
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Key References
   Morris et al., 1999. See above.
  Covers AFM imaging on biological samples.
   Braga, P.C. and Ricci, D. (eds.) 2004. Atomic force microscopy: Biomedical methods and applications. In Methods in Molecular Biology, Vol.242, Humana Press, Totowa, N.J.
  Covers AFM imaging on biological samples and some functional studies.
   Colton, R.J., Engel, A., Frommer, J.E., Gaub, H.E., Gewirth, A.A., Guckenberger, R., Rabe, J., Heckl, W.M., and Parkinson, B. 1998. Procedures in Scanning Probe Microscopies. Wiley and Sons, West Sussex, England, U.K..
  Good source of practical information on AFM imaging.
   Dufrêne, 2002. See above.
  The two references above are microbiology review papers.
   Dufrêne, 2003. See above.
  The four references above are review papers.
   Hansma, H.G. and Hoh, J.H. 1994. Biomolecular imaging with the atomic force microscope. Annu. Rev. Biophys. Struct. 23:115‐139.
  Covers AFM imaging and force spectroscopy—theory and instrumentation.
   Arnsdorf, M.F. and Xu, S. 1996. Atomic (scanning) force microscopy in cardiovascular research. J. Cardiovasc. Electrophysiol. 7:639‐652.
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   Heinz, W.F. and Hoh, J.H. 2005. Getting physical with your chemistry: Mechanically investigating local structure and properties of surfaces with the atomic force microscope. J. Chem. Educ. 82:695‐703.
Internet Resource‐artifacts_single.html
  Good presentation of imaging artifacts.
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