The CellHesion® module bridges the worlds of scanning probe and optical microscopy with the investigation of cell adhesion and cell mechanics phenomena. It allows the quantitative determination of cellular adhesion parameters with an unparalleled accuracy and reproducibility.


As an add-on for the NanoWizard® AFM it combines the capabilities of the BioAFM with precise adhesion force measurements and all optical microscopy features simultaneously.

Cell-cell adhesion operating principle

A single living cell is chemically bound to the cantilever sensor (e.g., through a fibronectin coating) under optical control.

This cell is brought with a defined force into contact with the binding target (molecular layer, implant surface, single cell, confluent monolayer) on the substrate (slide, coverslip or Petri dish).

After a user-defined reaction time the cell on the cantilever is separated from the substrate cell by retracting the cantilever in vertical direction (z-axis) through a piezo actuator.

The cell resists the attempt of removing it from the surface if it adheres to the target. Therefore the cantilever bends noticeably, which is measured by a detector.

Because, in physical terms, a cantilever is a leaf spring, the actual adhesive forces and energies can be derived from the measured bending. This allows the identification of single-molecule binding events that contribute to the adhesion. The experiment is repeated many times with the same cell, with different cells, on different targets and with different conditions to gain statistically relevant information.

Cell-substrate adhesion operating principle

The result of a single measurement cycle is a force vs. distance curve, which allows to determine single molecule events, the “work of removal” W, tether formation, the maximum adhesion force and viscoelastic parameters.


Application examples

  • Stiffness and elasticity mapping from single cells to substrates and tissues
  • Cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions

Adhesion measurement of cell-cell interaction between MDCK cells (click on the image for details)

  • Cell adhesion and tether formation
  • Biomaterial studies, biofouling, biosensors, capsules
  • Implants coatings and cellular biochips
  • Applications in microbiology and virus research
  • Pharmaceutical studies such as drug delivery mechanisms
  • Applications in food, paper or textile industry on fibers, coatings or powders in air or liquid
  • Binding studies such as receptor/ligand or antibody/antigene
  • Testing functionalized surfaces

Key features

Cellhesion Module
  • Add-on for the NanoWizard® AFM with 100µm additional sample z-travel for long range force experiments
  • Quantitative measurements from single molecules to entire cells and tissue, organelles and embryos with highest precision
  • Simultaneous focus tracking optional
  • Integrates with advanced optical imaging such as DIC, phase contrast, fluorescence, confocal microscopy, Superresolution, FRET, FLIM, etc.



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