Nano Research

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 703–718 | Cite as

Advances in atomic force microscopy for single-cell analysis

  • Mi LiEmail author
  • Ning Xi
  • Yuechao Wang
  • Lianqing LiuEmail author
Review Article


Single-cell analysis has been considered as a promising way to uncover the underlying mechanisms guiding the mysteries of life activities, which considerably complements traditional ensemble assays and yields novel insights into cell biology. The advent of atomic force microscopy (AFM) provides a potent tool for investigating the structures and properties of native biological samples at the micro/nanoscale under near-physiological conditions, which promotes the studies of single-cell behaviors. In the past decades, AFM has achieved great success in single-cell observation and manipulation for biomedical applications, demonstrating the excellent capabilities of AFM in addressing biological issues at the single-cell level with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. In this article, we review the recent advances in single-cell analysis that has been made with the utilization of AFM, and provide perspectives for future progression.


atomic force microscopy single-cell analysis cellular morphology cellular mechanics cellular manipulation 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 61873258, 61503372, U1613220, and 61433017), the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (No. 2017243), and the CAS FEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams.


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Robotics, Shenyang Institute of AutomationChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  2. 2.Institutes for Robotics and Intelligent ManufacturingChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  3. 3.Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems EngineeringThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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