Scanning Microscopy


The combination of an (AFM) atomic force microscope together with microfabricated cantilevers that have integrated tips opens many possibilities for imaging systems of great importance in biology. We have imaged single-stranded 25mer DNA that was adsorbed on treated mica or that was covalently bound with a crosslinker to a polymerized Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) film, the top monolayer of a bilayer system. At low magnification the AFM shows cracks between solid domains, like in an image taken with a fluorescence microscope. At higher magnification, however, the AFM reveals much finer cracks and at still higher magnification it reveals rows of individual molecules in the polymerized LB film with a spacing of 0.45 nm. We have also imaged a LB film consisting of lipids in which 4% of the lipids had hapten molecules chemically bound to the lipid headgroups. Specific antibodies can then bind to these hapten molecules and be imaged with the AFM. This points to the possibility of using the AFM to monitor selective antibody binding.

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