Atomic force microscopy, a tactile-based probe technique, provides a three-dimensional nanoscale image of a material by gliding a needle-like arm across the material's surface. The core of AFM imaging workhorse is a cantilever with a sharp tip that deflects as it encounters undulations across a surface. Due to a minimum force required for imaging, conventional AFM cantilevers can deform or even tear apart living cells and other biological materials. While scientists have made strides in reducing this minimum force by making smaller cantilevers, the force is still too great to image cells with high resolution. Indeed, for imaging objects smaller than the diffraction limit of light—that is, nanometer dimensions—this approach hits a roadblock as the instrument can no longer sense minute forces.
This work at the Molecular Foundry was supported by the DOE's Office of Science.
The Molecular Foundry is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs), premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit nano.energy.gov.
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Contact: Aditi Risbud email@example.com 510-486-4861 DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory