AFM and Nanoindentation Services

The facility is equipped with advanced Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM) and a nanoindenter designed to meet the needs of researchers in the field of mechanobiology and beyond. Our facility provides a wide range of analyses from the mechanical properties of cells to the nanoscale topography of biomaterials.

📍The AFM and nanoindentation services are provided by Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste laboratories in Area Science Park.

High-Resolution Imaging

Capture detailed topographical maps of biological samples at the nanometer scale with our AFM. Ideal for studying cell membranes, protein complexes, and other biomolecular structures, also used for live cell imaging to observe and analyze the behavior and dynamics of live cells under physiological conditions without the need for staining or fixing.
Finds applications in cell biology, biomaterials research, and nanotechnology.

Mechanical Property Mapping

Quantify the mechanical properties of cells, tissues, and biomaterials, including stiffness, elasticity, and adhesion forces. Mechanobiology analysis explores how biological specimens sense and respond to mechanical cues and how mechanics guide their function, physiology, and disease.
It offers combined topographic and mechanical imaging to simultaneously gather detailed morphological and mechanical data of samples.
This analysis finds applications in cancer research, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine, as it is particularly valuable for screening, identifying prognostic markers of potentially pathogenic regions, and therapy purposes.

AFM-based Nanoindentation

Controlling shallow indentation depth, load, and effective contact volume, AFM-based nanoindentation has application in surface height topology mapping and 3D high-resolution imaging.
It is commonly used to analyse the physical properties of soft solids, such as biological samples (e.g. tissues, spheroids, organoids), biocompatible scaffolds (e.g. polymers, hydrogels) and bioimprinted materials.
The instrumentation employed for nanoindentation analysis is a Chiaro Nanoindenter.

Nanostructured Biosensors and Devices

Explore the interactions at the nano-bio interface delving into the molecular dynamics and mechanical properties of biomolecules and cells in contact with engineered nanostructures, facilitating advancements in diagnostics, therapeutics, and biomaterials development.

  • Molecular bio-recognition: study the interaction between macromolecules (e.g. proteins and DNA) and engineered biocompatible nanostructured surfaces, performing AFM for both topographical imaging and combined topographical-mechanical imaging.
  • Cell adhesion: construct and analyse models, such as cell membranes, for understanding the mechanics and morphology of cell membrane interaction with drugs, liposomes, and (inactive) pathogens and the role of extracellular vesicles in macromolecule transport. It is possible to investigate the interactions between lipid bilayers (as cellular membrane models) and extracellular vesicles (EVs), including fusion processes essential for intracellular cargo release.

Support Services

  • Sample preparation: guidance and assistance in preparing samples for AFM and nanoindentation analysis.
  • Data analysis and interpretation: expert analysis of AFM and nanoindentation data, providing detailed reports and interpretation of data collected from experimental studies.
  • Training activities: comprehensive training sessions for AFM and nanoindentation operation, data analysis, and application-specific protocols for educational institutions, research labs, industrial R&D.
  • Consultation services: expert advice on designing AFM and nanoindentation experiments, selecting the appropriate technique, and optimizing research protocols.