This contribution reviews selected mechanical experiments on individual flexible macromolecules using single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) based on atomic force microscopy. Focus is placed on the analysis of elasticity and conformational changes in single polymer chains upon variation of the external environment, as well as on conformational changes induced by the mechanical stress applied to individual macromolecular chains. Various experimental strategies regarding single-molecule manipulation and SMFS testing are discussed, as is theoretical analysis through single-chain elasticity models derived from statistical mechanics. Moreover, a complete record, reported to date, of the parameters obtained when applying the models to fit experimental results on synthetic polymers and polysaccharides is presented.
Giannotti, M. I., & Vancso, G. J. (2007). Interrogation of Single Synthetic Polymer Chains and Polysaccharides by AFM-Based Force Spectroscopy. ChemPhysChem, 8(16), 2290-2307. https://doi.org/10.1002/cphc.200700175