Scanning Microscopy


The application of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM) to the study of small biological molecules, such as DNA and smaller molecules, has received considerable attention in the literature. This paper reviews STM and AFM studies of larger biological structures such as bacterial membranes, bacteriophages, viruses, antibodies, etc. The problems encountered in these applications are emphasized, with particular reference to the unknown conduction mechanism, tip-sample interaction forces, and tip-sample convolution artifacts in the images. The latter problem is illustrated by new results from IgG antibody complexes attached to a bacterial sheath layer. A new conduction mechanism involving a graphite film overlayer is suggested. The future prospects are discussed, with emphasis on the unique capabilities of these microscopes compared to conventional electron microscopes.

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