Detection and characterization of single biomolecules at surfaces

J Biotechnol. 2001 Nov;82(1):25-35. doi: 10.1016/s1389-0352(01)00030-7.


The investigation of bio-molecules has entered a new age since the development of methodologies capable of studies at the level of single molecules. In biology, most molecules show a complex dynamical behavior, with individual motions and transitions between different states, occurring as highly correlated in space and time within an arrangement of various elements. In order to resolve such dynamical changes in ensemble average techniques, one would have to synchronize all molecules, which is hard to achieve and might interfere with important system properties. Single molecule studies, in contrast, do not require pretreatment of the system and resume, therefore, much less invasive methodologies. Here, we review recent employments for the investigation of bio-molecules on surfaces, in which the high local and temporal resolution of two complementary techniques, atomic force microscopy and single molecule fluorescence microscopy, is used to address single molecules. Novel methodologies for the characterization of biologically relevant parameters, functions and dynamical aspects of individual molecules are described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Ligands
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Biology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Streptavidin
  • Surface Properties


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Streptavidin