Nonspecific interactions in AFM force spectroscopy measurements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Sample-probe contact duration (dwell time) and loading force are two important parameters for the atomic force microscopy (AFM) force spectroscopy measurements of ligand-receptor interaction. A prolonged contact time may be required to initiate ligand-receptor binding as a result of slow on-rate kinetics or low reactant density. In general, increasing contact duration promotes nonspecific interactions between the substrate and the functionalized cantilever and, thus, masking the detection of the specific interactions. To reduce the nonspecific interactions in AFM force measurements requiring extended substrate-probe contact, we investigated the interaction of bovine serum albumin (BSA)-functionalized cantilever with BSA-coated glass, polyethylene glycol (PEG)-functionalized glass, Pluronic-treated Petri dishes and agarose beads. The frequency of nonspecific interaction between the BSA-functionalized cantilever and the different samples increased with loading force and dwell time. This increase in nonspecific adhesion can be attributed to the interaction mediated by forced unfolding of BSA. By reducing the loading force, the contact duration of the AFM probe with an agarose bead can be extended to a few minutes without nonspecific adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-56
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Molecular Recognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • atomic force microscopy
  • force spectroscopy
  • nonspecific adhesion
  • protein adsorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonspecific interactions in AFM force spectroscopy measurements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this