We developed a new technique to measure elastic properties by using the atomic force microscope (AFM) tip to press samples into grooves etched in a GaAs substrate.
We measured the Young's modulus of β-chitin fibres with cross-sections less than 40 nm X 20 nm to be 1-2 X 1011 N/m2. In the isotropic approximation, the Young's modulus of the S-layer sheath of the archaeobacterium Methanospirillum hungatei was 1-3 X 1010 N/m2. By testing the sheath to breaking strength we estimated the bacterium can sustain an internal pressure as high as 100-200 atmospheres (1-2 x 107 N/m2).
Xu, W.; Mulhern, P. J.; Blackford, B. L.; Jericho, M. H.; and Templeton, I.
"A New Atomic Force Microscopy Technique for the Measurement of the Elastic Properties of Biological Materials,"
Scanning Microscopy: Vol. 8
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/microscopy/vol8/iss3/8