Surfaces of thin oxide ﬁlms were investigated by means of a dual mode NC-AFM/STM. Apart from imaging the surface termination by NC-AFM with atomic resolution, point defects in magnesium oxide on Ag(001) and line defects in aluminum oxide on NiAl(110), respectively, were thoroughly studied. The contact potential was determined by Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) and the electronic structure by scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS). On magnesium oxide, different color centers, i.e., F0, F+, F2+ and divacancies, have different effects on the contact potential. These differences enabled classiﬁcation and unambiguous differentiation by KPFM. True atomic resolution shows the topography at line defects in aluminum oxide. At these domain boundaries, STS and KPFM verify F2+-like centers, which have been predicted by density functional theory calculations. Thus, by determining the contact potential and the electronic structure with a spatial resolution in the nanometer range, NC-AFM and STM can be successfully applied on thin oxide ﬁlms beyond imaging the topography of the surface atoms.
aluminum oxide; charge state; contact potential; defects; domain boundaries; dynamic force microscopy; frequency modulation atomic force microscopy; Kelvin probe force microscopy; magnesium oxide; non-contact atomic force microscopy; scanning tunneling microscopy; thin ﬁlms; work function
Thiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) are widely used in many nano- and bio-technology applications. We report a new approach to create and characterize a thiol SAMs micropattern with alternating charges on a flat gold-coated substrate using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). We produced SAMs-patterns made of alternating positively charged, negatively charged, and hydrophobic-terminated thiols by an automated AFM-assisted manipulation, or nanografting. We show that these thiol patterns possess only small topographical differences as revealed by AFM, and distinguished differences in surface potential (20-50 mV), revealed by KPFM. The pattern can be helpful in the development of biosensor technologies, specifically for selective binding of biomolecules based on charge and hydrophobicity, and serve as a model for creating surfaces with quantified alternating surface potential distribution.
The plasma membrane of a cell not only works as a physical barrier but also mediates the signal relay between the extracellular milieu and the cell interior. Various stimulants may cause the redistribution of molecules, like lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides, on the plasma membrane and change the surface potential (Φs). In this study, the Φss of PC12 cell plasma membranes were measured by atomic force microscopy in Kelvin probe mode (KPFM). The skewness values of the Φss distribution histogram were found to be mostly negative, and the incorporation of negatively charged phosphatidylserine shifted the average skewness values to positive. After being treated with H2O2, dopamine, or Zn2+, phosphatidylserine was found to be translocated to the membrane outer leaflet and the averaged skewness values were changed to positive values. These results demonstrated that KPFM can be used to monitor cell physiology status in response to various stimulants with high spatial resolution.
The relation betweeen the structure of discotic molecules and columnar properties, a crucial point for the realization of new advanced materials, is still largely unknown. A paradigmatic case is that hexa-alkyl-thio substituted triphenylenes present mesogenic behavior while the corresponding azatriphenylenes, similar in shape and chemical structure, but with a different core charge distribution, do not form any liquid crystalline mesophase. This study is aimed at investigating, with the help of computer simulations techniques, the effects on phase behaviour of changes of the charge distribution in the discotic core.
We described the shape and the pair, dispersive and electrostatic, interactions of hexa alkyl triphenylenes by uniaxial Gay-Berne discs with embedded point charges. Gay-Berne parameters were deduced by fitting the dispersive energies obtained from an atomistic molecular dynamics simulation of a small sample of hexa-octyl-thio triphenylene molecules in columnar phase, while a genetic algorithm was used to get a minimal set of point charges that properly reproduces the ab anitio electrostatic potential. We performed Monte Carlo simulations of three molecular models: the pure Gay-Berne disc, used as a reference, the Gay-Berne disc with hexa-thio triphenylene point charges, the Gay-Berne disc with hexa-thio azatriphenylene point charges. The phase diagram of the pure model evidences a rich polymorphism, with isotropic, columnar and crystalline phases at low pressure, and the appearance of nematic phase at higher pressure.
We found that the intermolecular electrostatic potential among the cores is fundamental in sta-bilizing/destabilizing columnar phases; in particular the triphenylene charge distribution stabilizes the columnar structure, while the azatriphenylene distribution suppresses its formation in favor of the nematic phase. We believe the present model could be successfully employed as the basis for coarse-grained level simulations of a wider class of triphenylene derivatives.
The role of the cantilever in quantitative Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) is rigorously analyzed. We use the boundary element method to calculate the point spread function of the measuring probe: Tip and cantilever. The calculations show that the cantilever has a very strong effect on the absolute value of the measured contact potential difference even under ultra-high vacuum conditions, and we demonstrate a good agreement between our model and KPFM measurements in ultra-high vacuum of NaCl monolayers grown on Cu(111). The effect of the oscillating cantilever shape on the KPFM resolution and sensitivity has been calculated and found to be relatively small.
boundary elements method; cantilever; convolution; Kelvin probe force microscopy; point spread function
Noncontact atomic force microscopy provides access to several complementary signals, such as topography, damping, and contact potential. The traditional presentation of such data sets in adjacent figures or in colour-coded pseudo-three-dimensional plots gives only a qualitative impression. We introduce two-dimensional histograms for the representation of multichannel NC-AFM data sets in a quantitative fashion. Presentation and analysis are exemplified for topography and contact-potential data for graphene grown epitaxially on 6H-SiC(0001), as recorded by Kelvin probe force microscopy in ultrahigh vacuum. Sample preparations by thermal decomposition in ultrahigh vacuum and in an argon atmosphere are compared and the respective growth mechanisms discussed.
FM-AFM; graphene; 6H-SiC(0001); KPFM; SPM
We compare the three most commonly used scanning probe techniques to obtain a reliable value of the work function in graphene domains of different thickness. The surface potential (SP) of graphene is directly measured in Hall bar geometry via a combination of electrical functional microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, which enables calibrated work function measurements of graphene domains in ambient conditions with values Φ1LG ~4.55 ± 0.02 eV and Φ2LG ~ 4.44 ± 0.02 eV for single- and bi-layer, respectively. We demonstrate that frequency-modulated Kelvin probe force microscopy (FM-KPFM) provides more accurate measurement of the SP than amplitude-modulated (AM)-KPFM. The discrepancy between experimental results obtained by different techniques is discussed. In addition, we use FM-KPFM for contactless measurements of the specific components of the device resistance. We show a strong non-Ohmic behavior of the electrode-graphene contact resistance and extract the graphene channel resistivity.
The growth of molecular assemblies at room temperature on insulating surfaces is one of the main goals in the field of molecular electronics. Recently, the directed growth of porphyrin-based molecular wires on KBr(001) was presented. The molecule–surface interaction associated with a strong dipole moment of the molecules was sufficient to bind them to the surface; while a stabilization of the molecular assemblies was reached due to the intermolecular interaction by π–π binding. Here, we show that the atomic structure of the substrate can control the direction of the wires and consequently, complex molecular assemblies can be formed. The electronic decoupling of the molecules by one or two monolayers of KBr from the Cu(111) substrate is found to be insufficient to enable comparable growth conditions to bulk ionic materials.
directed growth; KBr; molecular wires; NaCl; nc-AFM; porphyrin; self assembly
We investigated the adsorption of 4-methoxy-4′-(3-sulfonatopropyl)stilbazolium (MSPS) on different ionic (001) crystal surfaces by means of noncontact atomic force microscopy. MSPS is a zwitterionic molecule with a strong electric dipole moment. When deposited onto the substrates at room temperature, MSPS diffuses to step edges and defect sites and forms disordered assemblies of molecules. Subsequent annealing induces two different processes: First, at high coverage, the molecules assemble into a well-organized quadratic lattice, which is perfectly aligned with the <110> directions of the substrate surface (i.e., rows of equal charges) and which produces a Moiré pattern due to coincidences with the substrate lattice constant. Second, at low coverage, we observe step edges decorated with MSPS molecules that run along the <110> direction. These polar steps most probably minimize the surface energy as they counterbalance the molecular dipole by presenting oppositely charged ions on the rearranged step edge.
alkali halide surface; noncontact atomic force microscopy; organic molecule; self-organization; zwitterion
In the title compound, [CdCl2(C18H14N4)2]·0.5H2O, the Cd atom assumes a distorted octahedral trans-CdCl2N4 geometry arising from its coordination by two N,N′-bidentate 10,11,12,13-tetrahydro-4,5,9,14-tetraazabenzo[b]triphenylene (TBBT) molecules and two chloride ions. In the crystal, π–π aromatic stacking interactions between adjacent TTBT rings are seen, with a centroid–centroid distance of 3.604 (3) Å. An O—H⋯Cl hydrogen bond between the half-occupied water molecule and one chloride ion also occurs.
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a three-dimensional topographic technique with a high atomic resolution to measure surface roughness. AFM is a kind of scanning probe microscope, and its near-field technique is based on the interaction between a sharp tip and the atoms of the sample surface. There are several methods and many ways to modify the tip of the AFM to investigate surface properties, including measuring friction, adhesion forces and viscoelastic properties as well as determining the Young modulus and imaging magnetic or electrostatic properties. The AFM technique can analyze any kind of samples such as polymers, adsorbed molecules, films or fibers, and powders in the air whether in a controlled atmosphere or in a liquid medium. In the past decade, the AFM has emerged as a powerful tool to obtain the nanostructural details and biomechanical properties of biological samples, including biomolecules and cells. The AFM applications, techniques, and -in particular- its ability to measure forces, are not still familiar to most clinicians. This paper reviews the literature on the main principles of the AFM modality and highlights the advantages of this technique in biology, medicine, and- especially- dentistry. This literature review was performed through E-resources, including Science Direct, PubMed, Blackwell Synergy, Embase, Elsevier, and Scholar Google for the references published between 1985 and 2010.
Atomic force microscopy; Scanning tunneling microscopy; Scanning probe microscopy; Dental; Biological
The study of surface morphology of Au deposited on mica is crucial for the fabrication of flat Au films for applications in biological, electronic, and optical devices. The understanding of the growth mechanisms of Au on mica allows to tune the process parameters to obtain ultra-flat film as suitable platform for anchoring self-assembling monolayers, molecules, nanotubes, and nanoparticles. Furthermore, atomically flat Au substrates are ideal for imaging adsorbate layers using scanning probe microscopy techniques. The control of these mechanisms is a prerequisite for control of the film nano- and micro-structure to obtain materials with desired morphological properties. We report on an atomic force microscopy (AFM) study of the morphology evolution of Au film deposited on mica by room-temperature sputtering as a function of subsequent annealing processes. Starting from an Au continuous film on the mica substrate, the AFM technique allowed us to observe nucleation and growth of Au clusters when annealing process is performed in the 573-773 K temperature range and 900-3600 s time range. The evolution of the clusters size was quantified allowing us to evaluate the growth exponent 〈z〉 = 1.88 ± 0.06. Furthermore, we observed that the late stage of cluster growth is accompanied by the formation of circular depletion zones around the largest clusters. From the quantification of the evolution of the size of these zones, the Au surface diffusion coefficient was evaluated in D(T) = [(7.42 × 10−13) ± (5.94 × 10−14) m2/s]exp(−(0.33±0.04) eVkT). These quantitative data and their correlation with existing theoretical models elucidate the kinetic growth mechanisms of the sputtered Au on mica. As a consequence we acquired a methodology to control the morphological characteristics of the Au film simply controlling the annealing temperature and time.
This paper describes the adsorption of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) molecules in a low polar solvent on Ge substrate by using Fourier transform infrared-attenuated total reflection (FTIR-ATR) spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The maximum SDS amount adsorbed is (5.0 ± 0.3) × 1014 molecules cm−2 in CHCl3, while with the use of CCl4 as subphase the ability of SDS adsorbed is 48% lower. AFM images show that depositions are highly disordered over the interface, and it was possible to establish that the size of the SDS deposition is around 30–40 nm over the Ge surface. A complete description of the infrared spectroscopic bands for the head and tail groups in the SDS molecule is also provided.
anionic surfactant; vibrational spectra; dichroism; deposition
The noise of the frequency-shift signal Δf in noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) consists of cantilever thermal noise, tip–surface-interaction noise and instrumental noise from the detection and signal processing systems. We investigate how the displacement-noise spectral density d
z at the input of the frequency demodulator propagates to the frequency-shift-noise spectral density d
f at the demodulator output in dependence of cantilever properties and settings of the signal processing electronics in the limit of a negligible tip–surface interaction and a measurement under ultrahigh-vacuum conditions. For a quantification of the noise figures, we calibrate the cantilever displacement signal and determine the transfer function of the signal-processing electronics. From the transfer function and the measured d
z, we predict d
f for specific filter settings, a given level of detection-system noise spectral density d
ds and the cantilever-thermal-noise spectral density d
th. We find an excellent agreement between the calculated and measured values for d
f. Furthermore, we demonstrate that thermal noise in d
f, defining the ultimate limit in NC-AFM signal detection, can be kept low by a proper choice of the cantilever whereby its Q-factor should be given most attention. A system with a low-noise signal detection and a suitable cantilever, operated with appropriate filter and feedback-loop settings allows room temperature NC-AFM measurements at a low thermal-noise limit with a significant bandwidth.
Cantilever; feedback loop; filter; noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM); noise
Key developments in NC-AFM have generally involved atomically flat crystalline surfaces. However, many surfaces of technological interest are not atomically flat. We discuss the experimental difficulties in obtaining high-resolution images of rough surfaces, with amorphous SiO2 as a specific case. We develop a quasi-1-D minimal model for noncontact atomic force microscopy, based on van der Waals interactions between a spherical tip and the surface, explicitly accounting for the corrugated substrate (modeled as a sinusoid). The model results show an attenuation of the topographic contours by ~30% for tip distances within 5 Å of the surface. Results also indicate a deviation from the Hamaker force law for a sphere interacting with a flat surface.
graphene; model; noncontact atomic force microscopy; SiO2; van der Waals
The adsorption of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) on self-assembled and Langmuir–Blodgett monolayers was investigated using total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) spectroscopy and scanning force microscopy (SFM). Substrates were chosen to probe electrostatic, hydrophobic and surface fluidity effects on TMV adsorption. Positively charged and hydrophobic surfaces demonstrated similar initial rates of TMV adsorption; however, their respective surface TMV coverages differed greatly. Likewise, positively charged surfaces which differed primarily in surface fluidity exhibited similar adsorption rates for TMV, but different TMV surface coverages. In contrast, virus adsorption to negatively charged and zwitterionic substrates was negligible. To elucidate these differences in adsorption behavior, SFM was used to image the distribution and the aggregation state of adsorbed TMV.
Virus adsorption; Tobacco mosaic virus; Langmuir–Blodgett film; Total internal reflection fluorescence; Scanning force microscopy
Measurements of the frequency shift versus distance in noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) allow measurements of the force gradient between the oscillating tip and a surface (force-spectroscopy measurements). When nonconservative forces act between the tip apex and the surface the oscillation amplitude is damped. The dissipation is caused by bistabilities in the potential energy surface of the tip–sample system, and the process can be understood as a hysteresis of forces between approach and retraction of the tip. In this paper, we present the direct measurement of the whole hysteresis loop in force-spectroscopy curves at 77 K on the PTCDA/Ag/Si(111) √3 × √3 surface by means of a tuning-fork-based NC-AFM with an oscillation amplitude smaller than the distance range of the hysteresis loop. The hysteresis effect is caused by the making and breaking of a bond between PTCDA molecules on the surface and a PTCDA molecule at the tip. The corresponding energy loss was determined to be 0.57 eV by evaluation of the force–distance curves upon approach and retraction. Furthermore, a second dissipation process was identified through the damping of the oscillation while the molecule on the tip is in contact with the surface. This dissipation process occurs mainly during the retraction of the tip. It reaches a maximum value of about 0.22 eV/cycle.
atomic force microscopy; energy dissipation; force spectroscopy; hysteresis loop; PTCDA/Ag/Si(111) √3 × √3
Background: Noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) now regularly produces atomic-resolution images on a wide range of surfaces, and has demonstrated the capability for atomic manipulation solely using chemical forces. Nonetheless, the role of the tip apex in both imaging and manipulation remains poorly understood and is an active area of research both experimentally and theoretically. Recent work employing specially functionalised tips has provided additional impetus to elucidating the role of the tip apex in the observed contrast.
Results: We present an analysis of the influence of the tip apex during imaging of the Si(100) substrate in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) at 5 K using a qPlus sensor for noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM). Data demonstrating stable imaging with a range of tip apexes, each with a characteristic imaging signature, have been acquired. By imaging at close to zero applied bias we eliminate the influence of tunnel current on the force between tip and surface, and also the tunnel-current-induced excitation of silicon dimers, which is a key issue in scanning probe studies of Si(100).
Conclusion: A wide range of novel imaging mechanisms are demonstrated on the Si(100) surface, which can only be explained by variations in the precise structural configuration at the apex of the tip. Such images provide a valuable resource for theoreticians working on the development of realistic tip structures for NC-AFM simulations. Force spectroscopy measurements show that the tip termination critically affects both the short-range force and dissipated energy.
force spectroscopy; image contrast; noncontact AFM; qPlus; Si(001); Si(100); tip (apex) structure
Polymer nanostructures were directly written onto substrates in ultra-high vacuum. The polymer ink was coated onto atomic force microscope (AFM) probes that could be heated to control the ink viscosity. Then, the ink-coated probes were placed into an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) AFM and used to write polymer nanostructures on surfaces, including surfaces cleaned in UHV. Controlling the writing speed of the tip enabled the control over the number of monolayers of the polymer ink deposited on the surface from a single to tens of monolayers, with higher writing speeds generating thinner polymer nanostructures. Deposition onto silicon oxide-terminated substrates led to polymer chains standing upright on the surface, whereas deposition onto vacuum reconstructed silicon yielded polymer chains aligned along the surface.
additive lithography; polymer; scanning probe lithography; ultra high vacuum
Terthiophene (3T) molecules adsorbed on herringbone (HB) reconstructed Au(111) surfaces in the low coverage regime were investigated by means of low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS) under ultra-high vacuum conditions. The 3T molecules adsorb preferentially in fcc regions of the HB reconstruction with their longer axis oriented perpendicular to the soliton walls of the HB and at maximum mutual separation. The latter observation points to a repulsive interaction between molecules probably due to parallel electrical dipoles formed during adsorption. Constant-separation (I-V) and constant-current (z-V) STS clearly reveal the highest occupied (HOMO) and lowest unoccupied (LUMO) molecular orbitals, which are found at −1.2 eV and +2.3 eV, respectively. The HOMO–LUMO gap corresponds to that of a free molecule, indicating a rather weak interaction between 3T and Au(111). According to conductivity maps, the HOMO and LUMO are inhomogeneously distributed over the adsorbed 3T, with the HOMO being located at the ends of the linear molecule, and the LUMO symmetrically with respect to the longer axis of the molecule at the center of its flanks. Analysis of spectroscopic data reveals details of the contrast mechanism of 3T/Au(111) in STM. For that, the Shockley-like surface state of Au(111) plays an essential role and appears shifted outwards from the surface in the presence of the molecule. As a consequence, the molecule can be imaged even at a tunneling bias within its HOMO–LUMO gap. A more quantitative analysis of this detail resolves a previous discrepancy between the fairly small apparent STM height of 3T molecules (1.4–2.0 nm, depending on tunneling bias) and a corresponding larger value of 3.5 nm based on X-ray standing wave analysis. An additionally observed linear decrease of the differential tunneling barrier at positive bias when determined on top of a 3T molecule is compared to the bias independent barrier obtained on bare Au(111) surfaces. This striking difference of the barrier behavior with and without adsorbed molecules is interpreted as indicating an adsorption-induced dimensionality transition of the involved tunneling processes.
Au(111); electronic density of states; STM; STS; terthiophene
Enormous research effort has been put into optimizing organic-based opto-electronic systems for efficient generation of free charge carriers. This optimization is mainly due to typically high dissociation energy (0.1-1 eV) and short diffusion length (10 nm) of excitons in organic materials. Inherently, interplay of microscopic structural, chemical, and opto-electronic properties plays crucial role. We show that employing and combining advanced scanning probe techniques can provide us significant insight into the correlation of these properties. By adjusting parameters of contact- and tapping-mode atomic force microscopy (AFM), we perform morphologic and mechanical characterizations (nanoshaving) of organic layers, measure their electrical conductivity by current-sensing AFM, and deduce work functions and surface photovoltage (SPV) effects by Kelvin force microscopy using high spatial resolution. These data are further correlated with local material composition detected using micro-Raman spectroscopy and with other electronic transport data. We demonstrate benefits of this multi-dimensional characterizations on (i) bulk heterojunction of fully organic composite films, indicating differences in blend quality and component segregation leading to local shunts of photovoltaic cell, and (ii) thin-film heterojunction of polypyrrole (PPy) electropolymerized on hydrogen-terminated diamond, indicating covalent bonding and transfer of charge carriers from PPy to diamond.
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) provide a promising third-generation photovoltaic concept based on the spectral sensitization of a wide-bandgap metal oxide. Although the nanocrystalline TiO2 photoelectrode of a DSC consists of sintered nanoparticles, there are few studies on the nanoscale properties. We focus on the microscopic work function and surface photovoltage (SPV) determination of TiO2 photoelectrodes using Kelvin probe force microscopy in combination with a tunable illumination system. A comparison of the surface potentials for TiO2 photoelectrodes sensitized with two different dyes, i.e., the standard dye N719 and a copper(I) bis(imine) complex, reveals an inverse orientation of the surface dipole. A higher surface potential was determined for an N719 photoelectrode. The surface potential increase due to the surface dipole correlates with a higher DSC performance. Concluding from this, microscopic surface potential variations, attributed to the complex nanostructure of the photoelectrode, influence the DSC performance. For both bare and sensitized TiO2 photoelectrodes, the measurements reveal microscopic inhomogeneities of more than 100 mV in the work function and show recombination time differences at different locations. The bandgap of 3.2 eV, determined by SPV spectroscopy, remained constant throughout the TiO2 layer. The effect of the built-in potential on the DSC performance at the TiO2/SnO2:F interface, investigated on a nanometer scale by KPFM measurements under visible light illumination, has not been resolved so far.
atomic force microscopy (AFM); dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC); Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM); surface photovoltage (SPV); titanium dioxide (TiO2)
Surface Plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy is a useful technique for thermodynamically characterizing peptide–surface interactions; however, its usefulness is limited to the types of surfaces that can readily be formed as thin layers in nanometer scale on metallic biosensor substrates. Atomic force microscopy (AFM), on the other hand, can be used with any microscopically flat surface, thus making it more versatile for studying peptide–surface interactions. AFM, however, has the drawback of data interpretation due to questions regarding peptide-to-probe–tip density. This problem could be overcome if results from a standardized AFM method could be correlated with SPR results for a similar set of peptide–surface interactions so that AFM studies using the standardized method could be extended to characterize peptide–surface interactions for surfaces that are not amenable for characterization by SPR. In this paper, we present the development and application of an AFM method to measure adsorption forces for host–guest peptides sequence on surfaces consisting of alkanethiol self–assembled monolayers (SAMs) with different functionality. The results from these studies show that a linear correlation exists between these data and the adsorption free energy (ΔG°ads) values associated with a similar set of peptide–surface systems available from SPR measurements. These methods will be extremely useful to thermodynamically characterize the adsorption behavior for peptides on a much broader range of surfaces than can be used with SPR to provide information related to understanding protein adsorption behavior to these surfaces and to provide an experimental database that can be used for the evaluation, modification, and validation of force field parameters that are needed to accurately represent protein adsorption behavior for molecular simulations.
Group B streptococci (GBS) is a leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in neonates and immunocompromised adults in western countries. GBS do not bind to fibronectin (Fn) in solution, but will bind to Fn adsorbed onto a solid surface. The reason for the specificity of this binding is unknown. Single molecule force spectroscopy was used to test the hypothesis that GBS, through streptococcal C5a peptidase (ScpB) molecules present on the surface of the bacteria, binds to a motif created by the juxtaposition of multiple adjacent Fn molecules. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) topographical images of adsorbed Fn deposited from various Fn coating concentrations were used to determine the Fn surface concentration. ScpB was tethered to an AFM tip with all surface modifications characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. At the lowest Fn coverages the probability of observing a ScpB–Fn binding event increased linearly with Fn surface coverage. As an Fn monolayer was reached the probability of a ScpB–Fn binding event occurring increased markedly (~50 fold), with a concomitant increase in the rupture force from 17 pN to 33 pN. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that ScpB binds to a motif created by the juxtaposition of multiple Fn molecules.
Single molecule force spectroscopy; Fibronectin; Streptococcal c5a peptidase; Poly(ethylene glycol)
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has emerged as a powerful technique for mapping the surface morphology of biological specimens, including bacterial cells. Besides creating topographic images, AFM enables us to probe both physicochemical and mechanical properties of bacterial cell surfaces on a nanometer scale. For AFM, bacterial cells need to be firmly anchored to a substratum surface in order to withstand the friction forces from the silicon nitride tip. Different strategies for the immobilization of bacteria have been described in the literature. This paper compares AFM interaction forces obtained between Klebsiella terrigena and silicon nitride for three commonly used immobilization methods, i.e., mechanical trapping of bacteria in membrane filters, physical adsorption of negatively charged bacteria to a positively charged surface, and glutaraldehyde fixation of bacteria to the tip of the microscope. We have shown that different sample preparation techniques give rise to dissimilar interaction forces. Indeed, the physical adsorption of bacterial cells on modified substrata may promote structural rearrangements in bacterial cell surface structures, while glutaraldehyde treatment was shown to induce physicochemical and mechanical changes on bacterial cell surface properties. In general, mechanical trapping of single bacterial cells in filters appears to be the most reliable method for immobilization.