This section provides a general introduction to the different techniques.


Bio atomic force microscopy

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is one of the family of scanning probe microscopes, and is widely used in biological applications. The AFM uses a flexible cantilever to measure the force between the tip and the sample, for high resolution imaging, force measurements and manipulation.

  • AFM tutorial Here you can find extensive information about the basic principles and methods of scanning probe microscopy:
  • Force spectroscopy tutorial: Introduction, force spectroscopy applications and FAQs about force calibration issues.
  • Pflugers Arch - Eur J Physiol 456:29-49 (2008): T. Ludwig, R. Kirmse, K. Poole, U.S. Schwarz, "Probing cellular microenvironments and tissue remodeling by atomic force microscopy " - This paper provides a good review of AFM applied to cell imaging, mechanics and adhesion.


Optical tweezers

As the name suggests, optical tweezers are a means to manipulate and measure objects with light. With the NanoTracker™, the user can trap and track particles from several µm down to 30nm with the ability to control, manipulate and observe samples from vesicles to whole cells in real time with nanometer precision.

  • Optical tweezers tutorial: Here you can find extensive information about the basic principles and methods of optical tweezers techniques:
  • JPK NanoTracker TechReport: This report describes the technical basis for quantitative force measurements using optical tweezers.


Cellular adhesion / cytomechanics

The innovative CellHesion® methodology opens up new paths for the study of cellular interactions. The CellHesion is an instrument for force measurement, based on AFM technology, and specialized for measuring cell adhesion and cell mechanics.

  • CellHesion® App- and TechReports: These reports provide a good introduction to the technique and applications
  • Sci. STKE 2007, pl5 (2007): C.M. Franz, A. Taubenberger, P.-H. Puech, D.J. Müller, "Studying integrin-mediated cell adhesion at the single-molecule level using AFM force spectroscopy" - This Science Signal Transduction and Knowledge Environment paper describes the experimental protocol for a typical CellHesion® experiment.


Automated force spectroscopy

Force spectroscopy is a single molecule technique that allows the real-time study of molecular interactions on the nanoscale. Originating from the broad field of Atomic Force Microscopy, force spectroscopy provides the necessary sensitivity to characterize biomolecular interactions such as the unfolding forces of single proteins or forces of a single chemical bond.

  • Nanotechnology (2008), 384020: J. Struckmeier, R. Wahl, M. Lueschner, J. Nunes, H. Janovjak, J. Helenius, U. Geisler, G. Hofmann, T. Jaehnke and D.J. Mueller, "Fully automated single-molecule force spectroscopy for screening applications" - This paper describes the particular technical developments for automated force spectroscopy:
  • JPK ForceRobot® TechReport: This report describes the concept and applications of automated force spectroscopy.