Scanning electron microscopy studies of protein-functionalized atomic force microscopy cantilever tips

Miodrag Micic, Aileen Chen, Roger M. Leblanc, Vincent T. Moy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Protein-functionalized atomic force microscopy (AFM) tips have been used to investigate the interaction of individual ligand-receptor complexes. Herein we present results from scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies of protein-functionalized AFM cantilever tips. The goals of this study were (1) to examine the surface morphology of protein-coated AFM tips and (2) to determine the stability of the coated tips. Based on SEM images, we found that bovine serum albumin (BSA) in solution spontaneously adsorbed onto the surface of silicon nitride cantilevers, forming a uniform protein layer over the surface. Additional protein layers deposited over the initial BSA-coated surface did not significantly alter the surface morphology. However, we found that avidin-functionalized tips were contaminated with debris after a series of force measurements with biotinylated agarose beads. The bound debris presumably originated from the transfer of material from the agarose bead. This observation is consistent with the observed deterioration of functional activity as measured in ligand-receptor binding force experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-397
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Ligand-receptor interactions
  • Protein adsorption
  • Scanning electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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