Viscoelasticity of Living Cells Allows High Resolution Imaging by Tapping Mode Atomic Force Microscopy

Constant A.J. Putman, Kees O. van der Werf, Bart G. de Grooth, Niek F. van Hulst, Jan Greve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Application of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to biological objects and processes under physiological conditions has been hampered so far by the deformation and destruction of the soft biological materials invoked. Here we describe a new mode of operation in which the standard V-shaped silicon nitride cantilever is oscillated under liquid and damped by the interaction between AFM tip and sample surface. Because of the viscoelastic behavior of the cellular surface, cells effectively ''harden'' under such a tapping motion at high frequencies and become less susceptible to deformation. Images obtained in this way primarily reveal the surface structure of the cell. It is now possible to study physiological processes, such as cell growth, with a minimal level of perturbation and high spatial resolution (similar to 20 nm).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1749-1753
Number of pages5
JournalBiophysical journal
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1994

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