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Single-cell studies are extremely important in several fields of research in both molecular and cell biology. Current nanocharacterization techniques based on atomic force microscopy allow researchers to study cells and molecules in unprecedented detail. An important limitation of conventional equipment results from the use of a single probe to measure different parameters of the same sample. To avoid this, here we present a multitool platform based on coordinated self-sensing probes. A first tool, based on quartz tuning fork resonators, is used to image the surface. A second tool, based on a piezoresistive cantilever, is used to measure the nanomechanical properties of the sample. Specific instrumentation circuitry was developed to optimize imaging and force measurement with these probes. Different coordination strategies were studied and a solution was selected that coordinates the nanotools in the microworld and in the nanoworld. Finally, an experiment with biological samples was conducted: the tuning-fork-based tool measured the topography of Escherichia Coli bacterial membranes and the piezoresistive-cantilever-based tool measured their elastic properties.
Date of Publication: June 2013