Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University, 212 Earth-Engineering Sciences, University Park, PA 16802, USA
The study of biological samples is one of the most attractive and innovative fields of application of atomic force microscopy AFM. Recent breakthroughs in software and hardware have revolutionized this field and this paper reports on recent trends and describes examples of applications on biological samples. Originally developed for high-resolution imaging purposes, the AFM also has unique capabilities as a nano-indentor to probe the dynamic visco-elastic material properties of living cells in culture. In particular, AFM elastography combines imaging and indentation modalities to map the spatial distribution of cell mechanical properties, which in turn reflect the structure and function of the underlying structure. This paper describes the progress and development of atomic force microscopy as applied to animal and plant cell structures.
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