Using Old Methods for New Tricks: Pulling Polymers with Atomic Force Microscopy

This is an interesting article from the great Ionic Blog, showing how Atomic Force Microscopy has been used to move around single strands of polymers in order to figure out the binding energies of each monomeric unit. It’s very neat science, and presents a new approach to polymer study which hasn’t been tried out before.

The Ionic Blog

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is common analysis technique used to obtain high resolution 3D images of surface features on tiny samples. Although there are a variety of modes, all AFM systems involve a a near-atomically sized tip attached to a thin cantilever close to the surface. The tip either maintains constant contact (or non-contact) or intermittently taps the entire sample area to give a good representation of the surface topography. AFM is great for measuring nanoscale surface topography, surface feature heights and sizes, thin-film thickness, surface roughness, and (more applicable here) bond strength.

Here are a few sample surface images determined from AFM (wrangled from Google):

nanoparticles_1

Image heights of nanoparticle sample

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 8.51.23 PM

Very high-quality image of CaF2 using an advanced Asylum AFM

According to an article published today over at ScienceDaily, researchers at the University of Basel aren’t using AFM to raster-scan surfaces for high-res images. Instead, they’re using the AFM…

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