Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Background

AFM is routinely used to solve processing and materials problems in a wide range of technologies from electronics to drug formulations. It provides researchers with images and measurements at the nanoscale.

AFM provides very high resolution images of surface topography in liquid or gaseous environments, over a range of temperatures. In addition to high-resolution imaging, AFM is capable of measuring nano-mechanical surface properties, such as adhesion, compliance, friction and roughness. AFM can be used for the investigation of wear, cleaning, corrosion, indentation, lubrication, detection of transfer of material and surface potential. Moreover, AFM is one of the few techniques that allow the examination at nanometre resolution of the mechanical properties of living material such as tissues or cells.

Technology

The University of Strathclyde uses AFM to study a variety of Biological and chemical Systems such as vesicle or fibre structures, bacterial morphology and nanomechanics, nanoparticles, nanoscale cell-surface or drug-protein interactions, crystal growth, and nanomechanically characterising the native biological tissue and biomaterials in healthy and diseased states.

Key benefits

  • provides a three-dimensional surface profile
  • measurements under different modes and environments (air, gas, medium, temperature, humidity) is possible
  • samples do not require any special treatments (such as metal/carbon coatings) that irreversibly change or damage the sample
  • AFM works well in ambient air or a liquid environment allowing imaging of material in its physiological state

Markets & applications

  • drug nanoparticles: AFM provides a convenient, easy-to-use method of nanoparticle sizing and characterisation
  • polymers: determination of morphology and surface properties, kinetic studies, aging phenomena, surface treatment modifications, adhesion force measurement and indentation
  • cell biology: to study the dynamic behaviour of living and fixed cells such as red and white blood cells, bacteria, platelets, living renal epithelial cells, and glial cells
  • DNA and RNA analysis, chromosomes, cellular membranes, proteins and peptides, molecular crystals, and polymers and biomaterials

Licensing & development

These facilities are open to industrial and academic partners on a contract or collaborative basis. For further information, please contact the RKES team.