AFM for Biomaterials Research

Biomaterials research leverages the capabilities of AFM for both material science (polymers, thin films, etc.) and life science (cell biology, molecular biology).


  • Measure surface morphology / surface roughness
  • Measure material properties (elastic modulus, loss modulus, hardness)
  • Measure surface changes during or after exposure to liquids (e.g. as related to biocompatibility)

Common Applications

  • Implants
  • Drug coatings (e.g. stents, catheters, etc.)
  • Anti-fouling coatings (e.g. catheters, implants, biosensors, etc.)
  • Biomineralization studies
  • Tissue engineering and scaffold engineering

Crack Propagation in Bone Captured with In Situ Mechanical Testing During AFM
Bone, like all tissues, is built from structural elements starting at the nanometer scale. The generally complex and hierarchical arrangement of these basic elements into progressively larger structural features renders bone an anisotropic and anatomically distinct material adapted to specific loads and loading cases. Due to the hierarchical structure and complexity of bone, the uncovering of structure-function relationships, i.e. the origin of material properties such as strength, toughness, and fatigue resistance, is usually a non-trivial task. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) offers an approach to overcome some of these difficulties. Because AFM allows for imaging in ambient – even hydrated conditions – it is feasible to perform in situ micro-mechanical testing experiments while conducting imaging. Here we present first data obtained from a micro-tensile testing apparatus, demonstrating the power of this technique.

Asylum Research Image Gallery