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1.  High-resolution dynamic atomic force microscopy in liquids with different feedback architectures 
Summary
The recent achievement of atomic resolution with dynamic atomic force microscopy (dAFM) [Fukuma et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 2005, 87, 034101], where quality factors of the oscillating probe are inherently low, challenges some accepted beliefs concerning sensitivity and resolution in dAFM imaging modes. Through analysis and experiment we study the performance metrics for high-resolution imaging with dAFM in liquid media with amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM) and drive-amplitude modulation (DAM) imaging modes. We find that while the quality factors of dAFM probes may deviate by several orders of magnitude between vacuum and liquid media, their sensitivity to tip–sample forces can be remarkable similar. Furthermore, the reduction in noncontact forces and quality factors in liquids diminishes the role of feedback control in achieving high-resolution images. The theoretical findings are supported by atomic-resolution images of mica in water acquired with AM, FM and DAM under similar operating conditions.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.4.15
PMCID: PMC3596120  PMID: 23503468
atomic force microscopy; dAFM; high-resolution; liquids
2.  Drive-amplitude-modulation atomic force microscopy: From vacuum to liquids 
Summary
We introduce drive-amplitude-modulation atomic force microscopy as a dynamic mode with outstanding performance in all environments from vacuum to liquids. As with frequency modulation, the new mode follows a feedback scheme with two nested loops: The first keeps the cantilever oscillation amplitude constant by regulating the driving force, and the second uses the driving force as the feedback variable for topography. Additionally, a phase-locked loop can be used as a parallel feedback allowing separation of the conservative and nonconservative interactions. We describe the basis of this mode and present some examples of its performance in three different environments. Drive-amplutide modulation is a very stable, intuitive and easy to use mode that is free of the feedback instability associated with the noncontact-to-contact transition that occurs in the frequency-modulation mode.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.3.38
PMCID: PMC3343270  PMID: 22563531
atomic force microscopy; control systems; dissipation; frequency modulation; noncontact
3.  Resolving Structure and Mechanical Properties at the Nanoscale of Viruses with Frequency Modulation Atomic Force Microscopy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30204.
Structural Biology (SB) techniques are particularly successful in solving virus structures. Taking advantage of the symmetries, a heavy averaging on the data of a large number of specimens, results in an accurate determination of the structure of the sample. However, these techniques do not provide true single molecule information of viruses in physiological conditions. To answer many fundamental questions about the quickly expanding physical virology it is important to develop techniques with the capability to reach nanometer scale resolution on both structure and physical properties of individual molecules in physiological conditions. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) fulfills these requirements providing images of individual virus particles under physiological conditions, along with the characterization of a variety of properties including local adhesion and elasticity. Using conventional AFM modes is easy to obtain molecular resolved images on flat samples, such as the purple membrane, or large viruses as the Giant Mimivirus. On the contrary, small virus particles (25–50 nm) cannot be easily imaged. In this work we present Frequency Modulation atomic force microscopy (FM-AFM) working in physiological conditions as an accurate and powerful technique to study virus particles. Our interpretation of the so called “dissipation channel” in terms of mechanical properties allows us to provide maps where the local stiffness of the virus particles are resolved with nanometer resolution. FM-AFM can be considered as a non invasive technique since, as we demonstrate in our experiments, we are able to sense forces down to 20 pN. The methodology reported here is of general interest since it can be applied to a large number of biological samples. In particular, the importance of mechanical interactions is a hot topic in different aspects of biotechnology ranging from protein folding to stem cells differentiation where conventional AFM modes are already being used.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030204
PMCID: PMC3266245  PMID: 22295076

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