Atomic Force Microscopy in the Life Sciences

Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


The last decade have established AFM as a technique in life sciences applications ranging from single molecules to living cells and tissues. AFM still remains one of the few microscopy tools to offer premium resolution on bio-macromolecules at near physiological/native sample conditions. The demand for correlative immunochemical and ultrastructural characterization of macromolecular complexes and cells has made the combination of AFM and advanced optical microscopy techniques almost ubiquitous in every life sciences lab. This chapter gives an overview of the instrumentation and most common imaging modes used in AFM nowadays, as well as different preparation protocols for single molecule and cell applications. We finish with application examples that feature some recent developments in state-of-the-art AFMs as tools to study molecular and cellular dynamics with high spatial and temporal resolution.


atomic force microscopy (AFM) high-resolution imaging correlative microscopy feedback loop tip-sample interaction sample preparation nanomechanical mapping force spectroscopy 



The authors would like to thank Oilibhe Pabsch and Detlef Knebel at JPK Instruments for inspiring discussions and critical reviews during the preparation of the manuscript.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Cell Biology & AnatomyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Bruker Nano GmbHBerlinGermany

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