Structural and Dynamic Characterization of Biochemical Processes by Atomic Force Microscopy

  • Frédéric Eghiaian
  • Iwan A. T. SchaapEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 778)


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) has gained increasing popularity over the years among biophysicists due to its ability to image and to measure pN to nN forces on biologically relevant scales (nm to μm). Continuous technical developments have made AFM capable of nondisruptive, subsecond imaging of fragile biological samples in a liquid environment, making this method a potent alternative to light microscopy. In this chapter, we discuss the basics of AFM, its theoretical limitations, and we describe how this technique can be used to get single protein resolution in liquids at room temperature. Provided imaging is done at low-enough forces to avoid sample disruption and conformational changes, AFM allows obtaining unique insights into enzyme dynamics.

Key words

Atomic force microscopy Cantilever Thermal noise Silane Virus Microtubule Kinesin 



We thank Sebastian Hanke and Jan Knappe for performing the imaging of DNA and the thermal noise measurements, and Bodo Wilts, Christoph F. Schmidt, Pedro de Pablo, and Carolina Carrasco for useful discussions. F. Eghiaian and I.A.T Schaap are supported by the DFG Research Center for Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CMPB)/Excellence Cluster 171.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drittes Physikalisches InstitutGeorg August UniversitätGöttingenGermany

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