The Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) was invented in 1986 by Binnig, Quate and Gerber as a novel technique that allows imaging of surfaces and force measurements at the atomic scale, whether the sample is in air or under fluid. This last property makes it very attractive as a tool for biological applications for live cell imaging and single molecule force spectroscopy.
The AFM is the only instrument capable of non-destructively imaging cells and molecules with a resolution comparable with that of an electron microscope, and providing structural, mechanical and functional information under physiological conditions. This instrument allows the investigation of molecular interactions over time scales from seconds to hours.
The main advantages of the AFM are: