The most flexible AFM for life science research

The atomic force microscope that combines versatility and performance for biology and life science

  •  Compatible with inverted microscopes
  •  Flat and linear scanning thanks to flexure-based scanner technology
  •  True flexibility with exchangeable cantilever holders for specialized tasks
  •  More measurement versatility with the FlexAFM’s scanning capabilities in liquid and its additional measurement modes

A key success factor in life science research is the combination of multiple techniques. With the Flex-Bio, Nanosurf’s Bio AFM, you can combine the liquid AFM imaging, spectroscopy and nanomanipulation capacity of this system with the high-end optical techniques available for inverted microscopes.

Flexible system design for life science research

Flex-Bio comes with manual and motorized stages for seamless integration on Zeiss, Olympus, Nikon and Leica inverted microscopes or with standalone stages. On the inverted microscope, optical and AFM data can be correlated, as shown here for internal limiting membrane (ILM) of the human retina.

(A) Bright field image of isolated ILM in a physiological buffer. (B) Fluorescence image of the same section showing anti-laminin staining. (C) AFM topograph of a subsection of the ILM; also shown as overlay in B. (D) AFM stiffness measurements (stiffness map) of the same subsection. The color for each point represents the local stiffness value as calculated from force curves recorded at the respective positions. (E) Histogram of the stiffness data shown in D. (F) Typical force-displacement curves obtained on the ILM and on the glass substrate. These curves are converted to force-indentation data, which then allows calculation of the stiffness. Stiffness distribution of biological tissues has been shown to be a marker for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, arthritis and cancer. Data courtesy: Marko Loparic, Marija Plodinec, Philip Oertle, and Paul B. Henrich, Biozentrum/SNI/UHBS, University of Basel, CH.

The modular stage, cantilever holder, and software concept allows an easy upgrade of the system to access many new possibilities in life science and materials research. Flex-FPM for cell and nano-manipulation, for example, and Flex-ANA for automatic nanomechanical analysis. In addition, advanced modes like MFM and KPFM that were originally developed for the Flex-Axiom system, are also available for Flex-Bio. For measurements that don’t need optical access from below, e.g. for the imaging and spectroscopy of samples like bacteriorhodopsin, a standalone stage makes the Flex-Bio compatible with the Nanosurf Isostage and Acoustic Enclosure 300, and generally makes the system much more compact.

A Flex-Bio system with stand-alone stage, isostage, and acoustic enclosure. (B) 2D crystals of bacteriorhodopsin [140 nm scan range]. (C) Power spectrum of B, showing a lateral resolution of well over 1 nm [dashed circle]. (D) Single molecule force spectroscopy of bacteriorhodopsin.

Practical details that really matter in daily use

Cantilever holders with alignment structures are available for use with cantilevers containing alignment grooves. This provides micrometer repositioning accuracy, circumventing laser alignment and allowing you to find the same sample features again and again. Cantilevers enter the image from top to bottom, so sample orientation is always the same, no matter whether you look by eye, CCD camera, or AFM (when scanned at the default scan angle).

Alignment chip technology

Top view on stand-alone stage

Top view on inverted microscope, image courtesy: O. Guilaume-Gentil, ETH Zürich, Switzerland