BIO-AFM: AFM and related Techniques for Biological Research

27. September 2018, 9:00 - 17:00 , Empa, St. Gallen, Switzerland


The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) allows the study of biological materials in their native, liquid environment. Atomic resolution in liquids can routinely be obtained, and the ordering of water close to the surface can be observed. Moreover, forces between the tip and biomolecules, and their dependence on distance can be measured with pico-Newton and sub-nanometer precision, respectively. Self-assembly processes, fluctuations, and entropically or chemically powered changes of the shape of biomolecules are ingredients of fundamental importance for their biological function. High-speed AFM allows the detection of such processes and bio-molecules in action with sub-molecular spatial resolution. The more rapid internal dynamics of bio-molecules however remains difficult to assess. Here, theoretical work gives insight and allows the calculation of the time-averaged molecule-tip interactions that can then be compared to experimental data. Apart from imaging, AFM technology can for example also be used to measure changes of cell mass with time or for the manipulation of matter at the nanometer scale. The availability of an AFM using cantilevers with built-in channels added another ex-perimental dimension, for example allowing the non-destructive extraction of molecules from single cells.

The BIO-AFM focuses on the application of AFM for imaging biomolecules and cells at work in their native environment, and understanding fundamental aspects of the mechanisms behind. Experts will review different experimental techniques of AFM relevant for biological research, and discuss some seminal work performed in this field.



This 1-day workshop is targeted at all members of research groups from academia and industry who are interested in the application of AFM and related techniques for the study of biological materials.




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