AFM for Molecular Biology Research

AFM offers unique and powerful capabilities for research in molecular biology. AFM can visualize and measure biomolecules and biomembranes in their fully hydrated state and in native or near-native environments. Structures can be investigated with up to sub-nanometer lateral resolution and sub-Angstrom vertical resolution. Though samples must be adsorbed to a surface, they need not be fixed or otherwise static. Indeed, the ability to observe dynamics at this resolution is one of the most powerful capabilities that AFM offers for molecular biology. The AFM may also be used to measure both intra-molecular and inter-molecular forces.


  • High resolution imaging of biomolecules and biomembranes (sub-nm lateral, sub-Angstrom vertical)
  • Operate in buffer solutions and other liquids (or air, if prefered)
  • Exchange or perfuse the solution (e.g. change salt concentration, add other biomolecules in solution, etc.)
  • Measure pN-scale intra-molecular and inter-molecular forces

Common Applications

  • DNA structure and DNA-protein interactions
  • Structure of membrane proteins
  • Lipid bilayers / supported lipid bilayers
  • DNA origami
  • Protein aggregation / fibril formation (e.g. amyloid, actin, insulin)