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Quantitative Imaging of Membrane Mechanics with Molecular Resolution

Biomolecules Analysis

  1. Mingdong Dong,
  2. Ozgur Sahin

Published Online: 15 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9093

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Dong, M. and Sahin, O. 2010. Quantitative Imaging of Membrane Mechanics with Molecular Resolution. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Harvard University, Rowland Institute at Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2010


Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool to study the surface morphology of biological samples. High-resolution topographical images allow visualization of nanomaterials and characterization of nanostructures to understand functional properties in detail. However, in general, morphology is not sufficient to link structure and function of materials and biomolecules. Complementary information on optical, electronic, mechanical, thermal, chemical, and magnetic properties with nanometer-scale spatial resolution can be extremely helpful. Recently, progress has been made in the measurement and characterization of dynamic nanomechanical properties with high spatial resolution using specially designed AFM cantilevers. High-resolution mechanical measurements can be particularly useful in providing insights into biological membranes, because these membranes comprise biomolecules whose mechanical properties are tailored to assist their biological function. With this perspective, we review the recently developed experimental technique and its applications in quantitative imaging of membrane mechanics.


  • atomic force microscope;
  • purple membrane;
  • quantitative nanomechanical measurements;
  • force spectroscopy torsional harmonic cantilever