Atomic Force Microscopy – New Super Resolution Method

A new computational method dramatically increases the resolution of atomic force microscopy. Under standard physiological settings, the approach exposes atomic-level data on proteins and other biological structures. It gives up a whole new world of possibilities in cell biology, virology, and other microscopic processes.

In physics, atomic force microscopy can efficiently resolve atoms on solid surfaces of silicates and semiconductors. The equipment has the precision to do so in principle. Biological molecules, on the other hand, have many tiny components that wiggle, obscuring AFM images. The scientists used a notion from light microscopy called super-resolution microscopy to solve the problem.

The spontaneous changes of biological molecules captured throughout AFM scans produced similar spreads of positional data rather than triggering fluorescence. They conducted a series of tests and computer simulations to better understand the AFM imaging process, extracting maximum information from the atomic interactions between the tip and the material. They could obtain quasi-atomic resolution images of the moving molecules using the super-resolution analysis technique.

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