Imaging modes of atomic force microscopy for application in molecular and cell biology

Yves F. Dufrêne, Toshio Ando, Ricardo Garcia, David Alsteens, David Martinez-Martin, Andreas Engel, Christoph Gerber, Daniel J. Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

344 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a powerful, multifunctional imaging platform that allows biological samples, from single molecules to living cells, to be visualized and manipulated. Soon after the instrument was invented, it was recognized that in order to maximize the opportunities of AFM imaging in biology, various technological developments would be required to address certain limitations of the method. This has led to the creation of a range of new imaging modes, which continue to push the capabilities of the technique today. Here, we review the basic principles, advantages and limitations of the most common AFM bioimaging modes, including the popular contact and dynamic modes, as well as recently developed modes such as multiparametric, molecular recognition, multifrequency and high-speed imaging. For each of these modes, we discuss recent experiments that highlight their unique capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-307
Number of pages13
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

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