Atomic Force Microscopy: An Introduction

Melissa C Piontek, Wouter H Roos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Imaging of nano-sized particles and sample features is crucial in a variety of research fields. For instance in biological sciences, where it is paramount to investigate structures at the single particle level. Often two-dimensional images are not sufficient and further information such as topography and mechanical properties are required. Furthermore, to increase the biological relevance, it is desired to perform the imaging in close to physiological environments. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) meets these demands in an all-in-one instrument. It provides high-resolution images including surface height information leading to three-dimensional information on sample morphology. AFM can be operated both in air and in buffer solutions. Moreover, it has the capacity to determine protein and membrane material properties via the force spectroscopy mode. Here we discuss the principles of AFM operation and provide examples of how biomolecules can be studied. By including new approaches such as high-speed AFM (HS-AFM) we show how AFM can be used to study a variety of static and dynamic single biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalMethods in Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 23-Sept-2017


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